The $26.4 million Regional School Unit 12 budget passed by 20 votes Tuesday after an initial spending plan was rejected in June.

Vote totals reported by town clerks showed the budget passing 765 to 745.

On Tuesday, Whitefield voted to pass the budget 88–76, Westport Island passed it 72–18 and Wiscasset passed it 393–350. Chelsea and Palermo both rejected the budget with votes of 56–119 and 32–37, respectively. Alna passed it 26-11 and Somerville rejected it 15-44.

Residents in the Somerville-based district’s eight towns rejected a $26.5 million budget in June by a vote of 468–409, with more than 65 percent of referendum voters saying the budget was too high.

For Philip Russell, 77, of Whitefield, the $26.4 million was still too high.

“I think we baby schoolkids and pay for it,” Russell said before going into the polls on Tuesday.

He said the decision to consolidate into a larger district has only added to the cost.

RSU 12 formed in 2009 as part of a statewide consolidation effort of school districts.

Another Whitefield resident, Charlene Donahue, 59, agreed that the consolidation didn’t work for the area towns, but she still supported passage of the school budget.

“Given the hand that we were dealt, I think it’s what we have to do,” she said before voting.

The proposed budget was 2.4 percent higher than the one approved last year, but the amount to be paid in local taxes was 4.6 percent higher.

The changes towns could see in their share largely depend on a new cost-sharing formula, approved by voters last year, which tries to make the amount paid per student more equal among the towns.

As a result, the towns now paying less per student would experience the largest increases in what they owe the district.

The proposed budget would decrease the local contribution 5.3 percent in Westport Island, while raising it 2.5 percent in Alna, 4.5 percent in Chelsea, 12.6 percent in Palermo, 8.6 percent in Somerville, 5.5 percent in Whitefield, 16.4 percent in Windsor and 1.1 percent in Wiscasset.

For a $100,000 home, that means a tax decrease of $28 in Westport Island and tax increases of $28 in Alna, $58 in Chelsea, $95 in Palermo, $66 in Somerville, $59 in Whitefield, $139 in Windsor and $12 in Wiscasset.

The budget, as approved, would eliminate 1.5 secretarial positions and an assistant special education director at the central office, the food service director will be cut by one-quarter time and the assistant superintendent will go from full time to half time.

Personnel reductions in the district also would include 3.5 educational technicians, 6.1 teachers, a social worker, a half-time assistant principal and a half-time science coach.

Middle school foreign language, available at three schools, also would be eliminated.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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