Voters in the towns for Regional School Unit 3 approved the district’s $20.65 million budget by secret ballot Tuesday.

The budget rose 1.92 percent over last year’s, mainly because of increases in costs for special education and regular instruction, as well as maintenance and facilities.

The budget also includes the first $117,000 payment for the school’s recently completed energy savings project.

Schools Superintendent Paul Austin said district officials are “very appreciative of the folks in our region,” especially as the state subsidy continues to decrease and push costs onto local taxpayers.

“In the end, we did our best to produce a budget to meet the needs of our students and hope the community can get around that,” Austin said of the residents in the district, which includes Unity, Monroe, Troy, Jackson, Montville, Knox, Freedom, Liberty, Brooks, Waldo and Thorndike. “For years they continue to take on more and more of the burden.”

This year, the district stands to lose $129,000 in Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget.

Schools across Maine are struggling with potentially massive cuts to state revenue after the governor recommended 48 changes to the funding formula for essential programs and services in his budget.

Most superintendents are hopeful that the Legislature will include additional education funding in the final budget, but they had to use the preliminary numbers for the towns’ votes.

Any additional revenue from the state will go toward reducing the local taxpayers’ share, Austin said.

Declining state subsidies has been the norm for RSU 3 since 2008, he added. The district has lost more than $2 million over the nine-year period, he said.

“We really can’t lose rural education in Maine,” he said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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