FAIRFIELD — Voters in School Administrative District 49 on Thursday approved a proposed $25.49 million school budget for 2015-16 in a districtwide budget meeting at Lawrence Junior High School.

They will take a final vote on the proposal Tuesday at polls in the four district towns — Fairfield, Benton, Clinton and Albion.

The SAD 49 board of directors revised an original $25.9 million after voters in a May 19 referendum rejected the plan.

The new $25.49 million proposal includes $433,497 in cuts from the $25.9 budget and represents a 1.38 percent increase — or $347,653 — from the $25.1 million budget for 2014-15.

Increases are represented in salaries and benefits, insurance, supplies, materials, operating costs, buses, facilities and other items.

One hundred sixty-six people turned out for Thursday’s meeting held in the junior high school gymnasium where Leonard Dow of Albion was elected moderator.


Cuts made by the board before Thursday’s meeting included those in facilities and maintenance, transportation, special education, administrative budgets and extracurricular activities including athletics, drama and music. Three or four positions also will not be filled after employees retire this year.

After Thursday’s vote, Steve Grenier, chairman of the SAD 49 board of directors, said the board responded to voters’ requests to trim the budget.

“I think the vote went the way it did tonight because we did answer their questions for reductions and their concerns for reductions,” Grenier said.

He said the district is getting $800,000 less from the state, including $412,000 less money for Essential Programs and Services.

“They’re asking us to pay about $389,000 in teachers retirement we already paid once,” he said. “The state is neglecting to do their duty to pay teacher retirement. This budget only went up $347,000. We’ve already taken a hit, plus we reduced the budget from the original amount.”

Grenier said he thinks the problems will continue to occur if the state doesn’t meet its requirement to pay 55 percent of Essential Programs and Services.


“Right now, they’re giving us 46 percent,” he said. “They’ve taken from the retirement system and used it wherever they want to and taking it from us. I think it’s wrong.”

SAD 49 Superintendent Dean Baker said after the meeting that it has been a tough budget season.

“The board and the staff have all worked very hard to identify any spending that could be cut in order to reduce local taxes,” Baker said. “The cuts mean educational and program services will be reduced. The total impact won’t be fully recognized until next fall.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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