Regional School Unit 4 — the school district that encompasses Litchfield, Wales and Sabattus — has postponed a vote on a proposed, $18.79 million school budget that was scheduled for Tuesday.

A date for the new vote has not been set. An emergency meeting of the RSU 4 school board has been scheduled for Tuesday evening to decide a new date, according to a letter from Superintendent Jim Hodgkin and Josh Bisson, chairman of the school board. They wrote the letter Friday.

So far this summer, RSU 4 voters have rejected two previous budget proposals.

The third vote has been delayed because one of the towns in the district did not post a warrant for the referendum vote.

“The law requires seven days of advance notice to the residents prior to a vote physically taking place,” Hodgkin wrote. “Therefore, with only two of the three towns having posted the warrant, the RSU 4 School Board has no choice but to postpone the vote.”

In a follow-up interview, Hodgkin did not identify the town that failed to post the warrant.


“I’d rather not answer that question,” he said. “Politically, things are not easy.

A selectman from Litchfield, Tim LaChapelle, said it was Litchfield officials who hadn’t posted the warrant. LaChapelle didn’t know the reason the warrant wasn’t posted. The Town Office was closed on Friday and no other town officials were available for comment.

In interviews and public comments throughout the summer, some voters and local officials — from Litchfield, in particular — have criticized the district’s budget proposals, arguing they should be at least $100,000 lower.

But those who support the budget proposal have argued that it will be impossible to make further cuts without reducing the programming they’re able to offer students.

This isn’t the first time in recent years when voters have rejected the RSU 4 budget through the latter part of summer. In 2015, voters in June defeated the original budget by about 30 votes, requiring another vote in July. And in 2013, voters rejected the budget twice before giving it final approval in August of that year.

This year, district residents have rejected two earlier budget proposals. In June, they rejected an $18.9 million budget that was up 1.84 percent from the 2015-2016 budget by just 18 votes. In July, they rejected a budget that was $100,000 lower. The latest budget proposal stands at $18.79 million, after Hodgkin volunteered to remove $7,000 from his own salary.


One of the reasons for the proposed increases in the 2016-2017 budget was a $422,014 reduction in the amount of state aid to the district for the 2017 school year. The budget proposal also included a $341,711 increase for, among other things, a bus, textbooks, technology investments and a new dean of students position that was meant to address an increase in problematic behavior by students.

In June, RSU 4 voters also approved a measure to keep sending the school budget to residents for a validation vote for the next three years.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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