Residents in Regional School Unit 2 will have an opportunity to vote Monday night on the $25.9 million budget proposed for the upcoming school year.

Voters from Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth and Richmond are eligible to vote on the budget, which will then go to a budget validation referendum June 9 in all those municipalities.

Monday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Richmond High School.

The warrant for the regional budget meeting contains 18 articles, almost all containing a dollar amount for specific parts of the school budget.

In the two categories with the largest dollar amounts, the school board recommends spending almost $10.8 million for regular instruction and $4.4 million for special education.

The proposed budget amount is about 2 percent, or $500,000, higher than the current year’s. However, the proposed budget would result in a larger increase in local property taxes because of a decrease of about $500,000 in state funding.


“It’s a roughly a 4 percent increase in the school portion of property taxes, which in most municipalities would mean roughly a 2 percent increase in property taxes,” said Dawn Gallagher, of Hallowell, the school board’s chairwoman. “If we didn’t have the decrease in state funding, the budget would be up only about $30,000.”

One of the categories on the warrant indicates zero funding for career and technical education. Gallagher said that’s because the state pays the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta directly for district students enrolled there rather than having the district forward the money.

RSU 2 Superintendent Virgel Hammonds narrated a slideshow presentation available on the district’s website at that offers budget details and compares it to previous years’ budgets.

Article 12 shows that amounts of money each municipality must raise under a state formula in order to fund essential programs and services for kindergarten through 12th grade and qualify for the state subsidy:

• Dresden: $1.2 million

• Farmingdale: $1.6 million


• Hallowell: $2 million

• Monmouth: $3.3 million

• Richmond: $2.2 million

The proposed increase has raised some concerns in the district’s municipalities.

In Monmouth, a note on the town’s website says the Town Office is closing at 4:30 p.m. Monday to allow people ample time to get to Richmond for the vote.

“In the last two years, the RSU budget-setting meeting has been less well attended,” said C. Douglas Ludewig, chairman of the Monmouth Board of Selectmen. “It seems an exercise in futility if you’re opposed to any part of it.”


Last June, Monmouth rejected the budget in the referendum at the polls, 364-324, but approval numbers in the other four communities were strong enough to win passage districtwide.

Gallagaher said she’s hopeful this year’s proposed budget will be approved and cited the board’s efforts — in the form of 20 to 22 public forums each year — to be transparent about the budget process.

“I think people have become more comfortable with the budget, and it continues to pass,” she said. “We don’t want to increase property taxes, yet we want people to know we are receiving reduced state funding; and we still have obligations, particularly with regard to special-needs students. We have a commitment to student-centered learning, a very dedicated staff, and we look at what’s best for kids. When we look at families who want great education, we can see they’re drawn to the RSU because we have a very progressive educational philosophy.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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