Residents of the four towns in School Administrative District 49 will have their chance to vote on the $26.5 million budget on Tuesday.

The proposed budget, which represents a 1.25 percent increase over the current operating budget, was agreed upon last month by about 50 residents who came to the annual budget meeting for the schools. It was proposed by Superintendent of Schools Dean Baker, who initially had called for an increase of 6.5 percent, but that was whittled down by the school board’s finance committee.

The proposal appearing before voters Tuesday is roughly $327,000 more than the existing $26.2 million budget, which voters approved handily last June.

In cutting the initial proposal, the finance committee was directed to delete five teaching positions as the student population shrinks by 75 students.

Baker previously said the budget was “close to being flat” and will result in an overall tax decrease in two of the towns in the school district — Albion and Fairfield — and a tax increase in Benton and Clinton.

Board members have stated a number of factors were driving the budget, including anticipated increases to salaries of over $500,000, increases to health insurance of over $500,000 and increases to special education of $550,000.

The state also is taking over the funding of vocational training, so the district was able to take that out of the budget as well.

Some of the larger line items in the budget include more than $10 million for regular instruction, more than $4 million for special education, more than $4 million for facilities maintenance, roughly $1.6 million for transportation, and nearly $1.5 million for school administration.

All items were approved unanimously at the budget meeting except for a lone written-ballot item, which covered allocating money according to the state’s essential funds and services model. Of the 50 ballots cast, 41 residents approved allocating more than $2.5 million, and nine residents voted against it.

The committee was able to reduce costs in other places by deferring maintenance projects such as roofing and window replacement and eliminating the purchase of some new technology items. Additional state subsidies that the district received over the summer were put toward reducing the tax commitments in the supporting towns, and about $200,000 was put into an unassigned fund balance.

In Albion, polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town Office on Main Street; in Benton, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town Office on Clinton Avenue; in Clinton, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town Office on Baker Street; and in Fairfield, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Center on Water Street.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis


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