Voters soundly defeated the School Administrative District 58 budget Tuesday after it was cut from $9.4 million to about $256,000 at a meeting two weeks ago.

The budget now goes back to the SAD 58 board, who will have to come up with a new budget for a June 22 vote.

School officials had said that if the budget passes, the board will declare it unconstitutional. The district includes Phillips, Strong, Avon and Kingfield. Aven was the only one of the four towns that voted to approved the budget.

Voting broke down by town as follows: Avon 5 no, 32 yes; Kingfield 85 no, 11 yes; Strong 111 no, 30 yes; Phillips 61 no, 9 yes, for a total of 262 no and 82 yes.

On May 28, a longstanding rift between the school board and the Mount Abram Teacher’s Association resulted in a line-by-line defunding of most of the operating budget, including regular instruction and special education.

Teachers, working for as many as three years without a contract, refused to allow a vote on the $9.4 million proposed by the school board and issued a protest vote, effectively defunding education in the district.

That vote forced the district to go ahead with a voter referendum on the newly proposed budget of $256,000 before anything else could be done to amend the budget.

The SAD 58 website posted a letter this week urging residents to vote no, saying, “This is the appropriate, reasonable and responsible vote regarding the current situation.”

There was speculation that lack of a viable budget before the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1 would cause the budget to revert to last year’s. The letter said the district’s legal counsel says that won’t happen.

The letter also said that, “If another inadequate budget is approved at the second budget meeting, or if enough voters are not present at the special budget meeting, then the operating budget becomes the ‘last budget approved at a budget meeting that has been submitted to BVR.'” In other words, whatever budget is approved at the June 22 budget meeting would become the operating budget as of July 1.

Lois Barker of Strong was casting her vote in favor of compromise Tuesday.

“I think we ought to vote it down so we can start over,” she said at the polls. “You can’t run a school on what they’re proposing.”

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