Bingham and Moscow residents of School Administrative District 13 approved a new school budget by just six votes Tuesday in a referendum, but there still appears to be unrest among the voting populace.

The proposed $3,499,635 school budget for 2017-18 was approved 124-118. Bingham voters said “yes” 90-68, while Moscow residents said “no” by a margin of 50-34.

Tuesday’s vote was the fourth referendum on the spending package. Changes had been made in school positions, including new administrative liaisons.

SAD 13 board Chairman Brian Malloy said he was pleased with the vote but noted the work isn’t done yet.

“I’m just relieved we finally got the budget approved, and now we can relax a little bit and go forward,” Malloy said by phone Wednesday. “I’m happy.”

Malloy said he wasn’t sure if the changes in the administrative jobs had much to do with the outcome. He said the budget lost by three votes in September and won by six votes this week, so there is no real mandate.

“I think there’s some people now that are beginning to think that we need to do something about closing some of our schools,” he said. “We’ve only got about 183 kids in three buildings, and it may be time that we took a real hard look at closing one or more of our schools to soften the blow to the taxpayers.”

Malloy said SAD 13 board members have met informally with representatives of RSU 74 in North Anson and SAD 59 in Madison about possibly forming an alternative organizational structure, or AOS, to combine some aspects of everyday education for students.

An SAD 13 referendum failed for the third time in September. The budget question — which had been rejected twice before — failed by just three votes, 73-70.

SAD 13 Superintendent Virginia Rebar said Friday before the vote that the “bottom line” in the proposed budget was the same as the earlier spending line — $3,499,635 — but changes were made in what the money will fund.

“We had a teaching assistant principal with a stipend of $10,000, and the board eliminated that and instead restored the administrative liaisons, which is the building-based teacher leader in each of the schools,” Rebar said by phone Friday.

The school board also moved some money in the administrative line for the high school to restore the high school liaison.

“Essentially, there’s no change in the bottom line,” she said. “The board didn’t want to reduce anything that would have an effect on students. They felt that the budget was worthy and they’re resubmitting it once again.”

The proposed budget was approved Thursday night at the district budget meeting.

Residents in June said “no,” 80-58, to a budget of $3,622,076 for 2017-2018 that had showed an increase in spending of $162,568.

The vote was cast June 13 by secret-ballot referendum. Voters earlier had approved the spending package during the June 6 budget meeting. Voters went back to the polls in July, August and September.

Highlights of the proposed budget, which was supposed to have taken effect July 1, include $1,311,789 for regular instruction, down from the rejected $1,344,808; $546,287 for special education, down from the proposed $556,456 in June; $255,269 for system administration, down from the proposed $264,869 originally; and $255,460, down from $324,752 for school administration.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow