Residents in Jackman-based School Administrative District 12 are being asked to approve a $2.22 million school budget Tuesday, the fourth time the budget for the 2015-2016 school year has gone to a referendum.

The proposed $2,227,150 budget is 3.69 percent, or about $79,000, more than last school year’s $2,147,797 budget. The proposed budget is also down more than $100,000 from a $2.3 million figure proposed earlier this year.

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Jackman Town Office and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Moose River Town Office.

The district, based in Jackman, also includes Moose River and has just one kindergarten-through-grade 12 school.

The original school budget proposed in May included a roughly 7 percent increase largely because of the addition of a middle school teaching position and funding for a new technical education program. Costs of the technical education program were to be reimbursed from the state, but SAD 12 Superintendent William Crumley said Tuesday that the district did not get state approval to start the program this year and is holding off on it until next year.

At the district’s first budget approval meeting in May, residents asked the district to add an additional elementary school teaching position into the budget, Crumley said. He said the need to add teachers is related to cuts to educational programs in recent years. In June voters were asked to consider a second budget, this time for $2.35 million.

“There was a need for more teachers at the elementary and middle level,” Crumley said. At the same time, he said, “the wishes (of the district) is for more dollars to be removed. That’s how we arrived at a fourth budget.”

He said the district also has been hit hard by reductions in funding from state education subsidies.

To reduce the budget, the district has eliminated three educational technician positions from last year and made other cuts, Crumley said. He said no layoffs were associated with the reduction in educational technician positions.

“We’ve made cuts across the board throughout the four rounds of the budget,” Crumley said. “We’ve looked at everything — utilities, maintenance, staffing and supplies.”

The two teaching positions are staying in the budget, he said. The cost increase in teacher salaries from 2014-2015 is $62,913.

Crumley said the current proposed budget is just 3.28 percent higher than the budget approved 10 years ago.

“Five of the last 10 years, the budgets have been higher than what we’re proposing in this budget,” Crumley said. “This is not an exorbitantly high budget. At this point I don’t understand a dollar and cents argument for the towns not approving a budget.”

According to Maine law, if a school budget is not passed by July 1 prior to the start of the budget year, the district can operate on the latest budget to be passed at a district budget meeting. That means that SAD 12 is operating on the $2.22 million budget, which was passed at a district meeting Oct. 8.

Crumley said both Jackman and Moose River have committed taxes for the year, even though no school budget has received final voter approval.

“Regardless of what happens at the vote, the effect on Jackman taxpayers has already been felt,” Crumley said. “Their taxes for this year are based on the amount that was in the round one budget. It will mean at the end of the year the towns will have, hopefully, a surplus.”

In the four times the budget has been presented at budget meetings, it has passed every time, Crumley said. The second part of the budget approval process includes a referendum vote, where so far this year the budget has not passed.

“We’ve had no problem passing a budget at the district meetings,” Crumley said. “There’s a lot of support for the school budget at the district meetings. It’s when it goes to the referendum that it’s getting voted down.”

The last referendum, in early September, was defeated by a four-vote margin; and Crumley said each referendum has been close.

“It’s frustrating to see the students lose out, but I applaud the school board for doing an outstanding job listening to the administration about what we feel we need to run the school and also trying to balance that with the needs of the community,” he said. “I think they’ve been really excellent, especially on this fourth round, trying to find the middle ground.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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