FAIRFIELD — The ayes had it Monday night as residents of the four towns of School Administrative District 49 breezed through a $25.8 million spending package for the coming year.

Voters took the school board’s recommended budget in each article, approving a budget that is 1.27 percent higher than the current budget adopted last year after failed votes forced deeper cuts.

Votes came with nary a nay as meeting moderator Leonard Dow, of Albion, took voting results with a voice count of ayes or nays, not by a customary show of hands.

The only interruptions came when Albion resident Marc Gilbert stood to question dollar amounts on three of the articles, but soon seemed satisfied with the answers found in the district budget book.

SAD 49 is made up of the towns of Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield

In order to whittle the 2016-17 budget down to an increase of under 2 percent, school board members had to cut five educational technician I positions and a teacher from the alternative education program.

In his letter to district voters this year, SAD 49 Superintendent Dean Baker said the proposed budget for 2016-17 reflects a decrease in local property tax of $77,985 despite a drop in state subsidy of about $267,000. He said the board chose not to spend $209,000 in state funding in the current budget year and to use the money to limit the need for local property tax this coming year. Baker said the recent reduction in energy costs has helped keep spending down.

The board also applied a $370,000 refund from the Maine Public Employees Retirement System to the budget.

After the final vote Baker said he was pleased with the work the school board had done getting a spending package approved without too many obstacles.

“I think we came out with a fair, affordable budget,” Baker said. “The increase was about half of the initial proposal. The board cut it down to 1.27 percent. I also have to credit the board with trying very hard to reduce the reliance property tax, especially in the face of reduced state funding and continuing state mandates.”

Highlights of the adopted budget included:

• $10,462,027 for regular instruction, including salaries, benefits, maintenance, contracted services, supplies, books and equipment;

• $3,936,354 for special education;

• $2,428,963 for student and staff support;

• $1,356,845 for district administration;

• $1,638,538 for transportation; and

• $4,118,541 for facilities maintenance.

In a written ballot vote, residents voted 69-6 to appropriate $2,722,028 in additional local funds above the $2,187,980 the district receives under the state’s essential programs and services model. The EPS model does not recognize all the costs of school functions. In some areas the amounts are less than the school board believes are necessary to provide a quality education.

Residents also approved appropriating $267,098 for adult education and raising another $140,000 as the local share for adult education. Voters also liked the fact that the district would spend zero dollars in the coming year for debt service and $45,000 to support the hot lunch program in district schools.

The SAD 49 school budget validation referendum will be held June 14.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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