Voters in all three Regional School Unit 4 towns approved the $18.5 million budget for the upcoming school year Tuesday after rejecting a budget that was about $50,000 higher in June.

The budget passed by a 237-168 vote. In Wales, voters approved it 60-15; in Sabattus, the margin was 73-65; and in Litchfield, voters approved it 104-88.

With almost no opposition, around 50 voters at a meeting July 22 had given preliminary approval to the school district’s budget.

The first budget that emerged from the first public hearing earlier this year was defeated during the June 9 referendum.

“Less than 500 community members turned out, and the budget failed by about 30 votes,” Superintendent Jim Hodgkin wrote in a July 9 letter to residents.

Board members returned to the drawing board and earlier this month agreed to shave $51,000 off the budget rejected by voters in June.

The school board made cuts in three areas to reach its $50,000 goal: technology, maintenance and system administration.

The technology decrease of $5,000 was negotiated with various vendors.

The board found $16,000 in maintenance savings by scaling back care of the athletic fields at Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield and Oak Hill Middle School in Wales. The cut was made primarily in herbicides and pesticides that typically are applied to the fields.

The system administration cut eliminates $30,000 to go toward the lease of a second bus. Hodgkin has said the board could budget comfortably for a bus and a half each year, which would allow the district to buy two new buses every three or four years.

In addition to the spending reductions, the budget passed by lawmakers resulted in the RSU getting an additional $176,000 in state funding.

With the approved budget, Litchfield will get a reduction of $22,000, Sabattus $73,000 and Wales $21,000.


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