Residents in School Administrative District 74 approved a $9.9 million school budget Tuesday, with voters in three of the district’s four towns passing the budget.

The budget was approved 129-106 overall. Among the four towns in the district, it was approved 57-37 in Anson, 21-19 in New Portland and 35-8 in Solon; but it failed 42-16 in Embden.

Residents in all four towns voted to continue the two-step budget referendum process that includes budget approval at public meetings prior to the referendum. The measure was approved 64-29 in Anson, 32-25 in Embden, 23-17 in New Portland and 30-12 in Solon.

The $9,967,044 budget includes an increase of $103,594 to be raised locally, about a 2 percent increase from the amount of money that was raised locally last year, and an increase of 4 percent in state funding.

Dwight Barron, a member of the SAD 74 school board representing Embden, said Tuesday night that he didn’t have an explanation for Embden residents’ rejection of the budget except that “they fight the budget every year because we’re being charged too much in taxes.”

In March, district residents rejected a proposal to change the school tax funding formula to shift more of the burden to Anson and Solon. That referendum followed a vote by Embden residents to look into withdrawal from the district because some residents were unhappy with the amount of school taxes the town pays. In 2015-2016, Embden paid $1.3 million in state required local taxes and enrolled 111 students while Anson paid $1 million and enrolled 331 students.

Tuesday’s vote was the second of two votes needed to approve the budget; it was also approved at a public meeting April 28.

The budget includes the reinstatement of a full-time principal at Carrabec High School, along with the elimination of the assistant principal’s position, a change that officials say will coincide with the retirement of current Principal Regina Campbell at the end of the school year.

It also includes a roughly $50,000 increase in health insurance costs that Superintendent Ken Coville said is related to the closure of Madison Paper Industries. The mill’s closure means that more employees of the school district whose spouses worked at the mill are applying for family health insurance benefits, he said.

The district also is scheduled to make its first payment on two bonds used to finance $4.5 million in renovations at Carrabec High School that were completed earlier this school year. The payment is about $250,000.

Despite the increased costs, Coville said earlier this month that the district was able to keep the increase to local taxpayers low without significant cuts to educational programs or services, in large part because of anticipated savings from Medicare reimbursements the district will be eligible for through new special education programs and therapy services for students.

“I think we’ve been able to preserve the educational programs while keeping the impact to local taxpayers as low as possible,” he said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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