FARMINGTON — For the second year in a row, the Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors is back to square one in devising a district budget for the upcoming school year after voters rejected their proposed $32.97 million budget at the polls Tuesday.

At a regularly scheduled board meeting Thursday night, the board discussed setting July 14 as the date for the districtwide meeting on the new budget figure with a validation vote set for July 28. Within the tentative budget schedule, directors would hold deliberations on June 21 and June 23, and vote on setting a new proposed budget figure at a meeting on June 28.

Directors will take a final vote on setting the schedule at their meeting Tuesday, June 21.

The proposed $32,973,180 buget for the 2016-2017 school year failed with 1,757 votes against and 1,518 votes in favor. Six of the district’s 10 towns voting against it.

Voters in Farmington, Weld, Industry and Stark passed the budget. But voters in New Sharon, Chesterville, Temple, Vienna and New Vineyard opposed the budget – which represents a 2.9 percent increase over the 2015-2016 budget.

At the June 1 districtwide meeting, about 275 RSU 9 residents in attendance gave the proposed $32.97 million budget initial approval, though debate ensued over nearly every article.

Last year, voters narrowly passed the $32.04 million budget at a second referendum vote in July. Voters at the first referendum vote in June rejected a proposed $32.25 million budget, by a vote of 1045 to 741.

When a budget is rejected by voters, the school board must start from scratch in formulating a new budget proposal.

RSU 9 Superintendent Tom Ward said he feels better about the budget refiguring this year than he did last primarily because of how close the vote was.

“We’re encouraged by the number of yes votes … We’re only down 143 votes,” Ward said in an interview before Thursday’s meeting.

No indication was given at Thursday’s meeting about what type of cuts would be made to bring the rejected budget figure down.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also voted to increase school lunch prices by ten cents per meal at both the elementary and high school level.

The board accepted the proposal from food services director Andrew Hutchins to increase lunch prices for the 2016-2017 school year. Hutchins said the increase is an attempt to better align the prices of school lunches with the cost of providing them.

Each school-provided lunch costs $3.21 to produce. At the district’s elementary schools, students presently pay $1.90 per lunch, and high school students pay $2.50 per lunch.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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