Voters in Kennebec and Somerset counties turned out to cast ballots either for or against proposed school budgets in a number of districts.

SAD 54

The School Administrative District 54 referendum vote was held by secret ballot Tuesday on the proposed 2017-18 budget of just over $33.8 million. SAD 54 towns of Canaan, Cornville, Skowhegan, Mercer, Norridgewock and Smithfield agreed to the spending plan at the district budget meeting last month, which is about $174,000, or half of 1 percent, lower than the current budget passed this time last year.

The budget passed by referendum Tuesday in every town, with a total of 639 in favor of the budget and 236 against it.

Voting on an asbestos-removal bond question passed 652-241.

The referendum ballot also will include a question asking district residents to issue bonds not to exceed $438,753 through the state’s zero-interest loan program for repairs and improvements at the high school to include the removal of all asbestos floor tiles and replacing them with asbestos-free tiles.


The state Department of Education will forgive about 58 percent of the loan, up to an estimated $255,749. The district will be obliged to repay the rest, about $183,000 over a five-year term.

Budget costs will not come without some cuts — teachers, supplies, equipment, textbooks, field trips and extracurricular activities. A restructuring of technology purchases away from one-time purchases to a multi-year approach also is included. Cuts also include the elimination of a new bus purchase this year and a reduction in the maintenance budget of $46,000.

Superintendent Brent Colbry said in May that a total of 7.5 positions were eliminated districtwide in the new budget, including one elementary school principal position. He said the positions of four teachers who are retiring will not be filled in the proposed budget, but with high enrollment at Mill Stream Elementary School in Norridgewock, a kindergarten teacher will need to be added.

The current principal at Margaret Chase Smith Elementary School is retiring, so the plan, Colbry said, is to combine the principal’s job there with that of North Elementary School, resulting in one principal for both schools. A portion of a social studies position has been cut under the new spending package and a vacant half-position in teacher computer support at the high school will not be filled. Two educational technician positions also will be eliminated, he said.

Colbry said increases in spending came with the addition of five special education staff members, a 9.56 percent increase in health insurance costs, a shift of $93,363 in Maine state retirement costs from the state to the district, and increases in contracted services, fuel, supplies, books and technology.

SAD 13


Voters in School Administrative District 13 in Bingham and Moscow said “no” Tuesday, 58-80, to a budget of $3,622.076 for the coming year. The vote was done by secret-ballot referendum. Voters earlier had approved the spending package during the June 6 budget meeting. Highlights of the budget, which is supposed to take effect July 1, include $1,344,808 for regular instruction, $556,456 for special education, $255,269 for system administration and $324,752 for school administration.

Brian Malloy, chairman of the school board, said the new budget is up by $162,568 over the current year. He said residents are unhappy about the $520,000 the district carries in surplus and are wary of the administrative setup coming soon.

He said new spending will include hiring two principals for district schools, where up until now there had been only one for all classes — Julie Richard. Malloy said residents don’t like the idea of two principals for a total of 200 students.

He said there also has been an increase in special education costs and additional costs for teacher retirement that is no longer picked up by the state. Malloy said the district will be receiving $861,124 in state aid to education.

RSU 74

Voters in the towns of Regional School Union 74 gave it a second try Tuesday, going to the polls to vote on the proposed $10 million school budget for the coming year. Residents of the district rejected the original budget last month by just three votes — 115-112. The budget was approved last month in Anson 46-38 and in Solon 30-10. It was rejected in Embden 16-43 and in New Portland 20-24.


Final results from Tuesday’s voting were not available at press time.

RSU 74 Superintendent Lyford Beverage said the low turnout for the referendum vote in May was a possible reason the budget vote was so close.

He said this week that the school board took another look at the spending package and brought the new figure to voters Tuesday. In revisiting the budget, the board reduced the health insurance line by $25,000. However, it immediately became clear that it would be difficult to find agreement on any other budget items, and the board voted to take the budget minus the $25,000 back to the voters.

SAD 49

Voters in School Administrative District 49 approved the $26.2 million budget Tuesday night, good for a 1.5 percent hike over the current school budget.

The unofficial results showed each town passed the budget: in Albion, results were 64-45; Benton, 85-52; Clinton, 197-164; and Fairfield, 130-87.


An initial budget proposal had cut out freshmen sports, which includes football and boys and girls basketball; but voters in Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield opted to keep those in the budget.

There were cuts, however. Positions lost include a support service worker, an educational technician and a library educational technician. The support services worker would have had a $55,000 salary, the educational technician would have had a $19,600 salary, and the library technician would have had a $29,600 salary. Additionally, two school buses, valued at $90,000 each, were cut from earlier versions of the budget, and some maintenance projects were deferred.

The largest portion of the budget was made up of regular instruction. That item amounted to more than $10.8 million, which constituted an increase of nearly $400,000. The next largest figure covers facility maintenance, which is proposed at just under $4 million. This is lower than the current year’s figure by about $124,000. After that, the next largest is the proposal for special education at roughly $3.8 million. That is a reduction of more than $62,000.

RSU 18

Voters in the towns of Regional School Unit 18 approved the $36.04 million budget by secret ballot Tuesday by an unofficial vote of 1,031-469.

The budget increased 4.16 percent over last year’s spending plan, driven chiefly by a rise in needs for special education and behavioral services. The increase also includes a new program that uses the district as its financial pass-through and, when removed, brings the hike down to 3.60 percent.


RSU 18, which includes the towns of Oakland, Sidney, China, Rome and Belgrade, is also struggling with a potentially large hit to its state revenue. Under Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed education spending plan, which recommends 48 changes to the funding formula for essential programs and services, the district could lose $750,000 in revenue, which it would have to make up with local tax dollars.

The school board also voted to distribute any additional revenue the district receives when the state budget is finalized as follows: 50 percent will go to reduce the local taxpayers’ share, 25 percent to additional school costs and the remaining 25 percent to the district’s fund balance.

Unofficial results also showed that voters approved bonds from the Revolving Renovation Fund Program for China Primary and Middle schools, as well as Belgrade Central School, for $254,549. The state program will forgive about 44 percent of the loan and allow the district to pay it back with no interest.

The unofficial results showed all five towns passed the budget: in Oakland, results were 300-118; Rome, 92-42; China, 272-97; Sidney, 156-92; and Belgrade, 211-120.

Vassalboro Community School:

Voters approved the $7.38 million budget by secret ballot Tuesday by a vote of 208-46.


Residents initially approved the budget, up by only 0.13 percent after a series of cuts, at Town Meeting on June 5.

The school’s total revenue is down by $329,000, largely because of a decrease in the state subsidy, which local taxpayers might have to pick up.

Schools across Maine are struggling with potentially massive cuts to state revenue after Gov. Paul LePage recommended 48 changes to the funding formula for essential programs and services.

School superintendent Eric Haley has said he’s confident that the final state budget will include more education funding. Voters also approved an article that will apply any additional state revenue toward reducing the local taxpayers’ burden at Town Meeting.

Winslow schools

Voters approved the $14.53 million budget by secret ballot Tuesday by a vote of 172-47, Town Clerk Pamela Smiley said.


The budget increased 1.06 percent over last year’s after the board approved a number of cuts as a compromise with the Town Council. The town has agreed to raise taxes slightly and use some money from its fund balance to fill a potential revenue hole left by a decrease in the state subsidy after Gov. Paul LePage recommended 48 changes to the funding formula for essential programs and services.

As of now, the state budget would cut more than 6 percent of Winslow schools’ state revenue, or $423,494. Altogether, the school is losing $392,740 in revenue.

In the worst-case scenario, Winslow schools would need local taxpayers to fund $544,652 to make up for the loss in revenue and the increases in expenditures.

The Town Council also voted to put any additional state revenue toward reducing the local share of taxes.


In partial results from the town of Unity, the budget for Regional School Unit 3 passed by a vote of 50-48 by secret ballot Tuesday. The proposed budget of $20.26 million is an increase of 1.43 percent over last year’s.

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