FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 voters approved a proposed $35.54 million budget Tuesday at the Mt. Blue campus that will go to voters for a validation referendum Tuesday in the district’s 10 towns.

The budget is $1.91 million more than this fiscal year, which ends June 30. That’s a 5.68 percent increase.

About 363 registered voters attended the districtwide meeting, Superintendent Tom Ward said just after 7 p.m.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support,” he said.

Ward, who is retiring this year, spoke about his five years as superintendent and about the district trying to recover from the recession, trying to make salaries for employees competitive, and the need to show students what is appropriate.

“We’re all in this together,” Ward said. “We are all trying to protect our future. Our future is in our children.

“The pendulum has swung too far. It has to come back,” Ward said. “We need to show our kids what it is like to be appropriate.”

Ward received a standing ovation when he was finished.

Ward also thanked the chairwoman of the RSU 9 board of directors, Jennifer Zweig-Hebert of Starks, who is not seeking re-election this year.

Ronald Aseltine, of Wilton, was elected moderator.

An attempt to amend the $10.83 million regular instruction article failed.

The Pathway for All Learners program costs is $461,603 in this budget proposal and includes eight students from kindergarten through grade two and eight students for third grade through fifth. Though the bulk of the cost is for regular instruction, parts of the program appeared in other articles. The progra’s goal is to provide behaviorally challenged students the social skills they need to participate fully eventually in general education classrooms.

A Chesterville resident said there is no need to spend this amount of money because children are misbehaving in class.

It really affects all of the classrooms for kindergarten through fifth grade students, Director Angela LeClair said.

“More and more students are coming to us unable to regulate their own emotions,” Paine said.

The proposed special education article for $5.53 million passed. So did the career and technical education article for $1.94 million.

Voters moved quickly through the rest of the articles, passing them all, holding up green cards for “yes” votes and pink for “no” votes.

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