AUGUSTA — School board members will consider approving the $30.5 million school budget Wednesday, the day after residents vote whether to validate that same budget in a referendum vote in Tuesday’s elections.

The unusual timing of the board voting on the final version of the budget after residents weigh in — not before, as has been the practice in recent years — came about due the city council deciding to cut $300,000 from the school budget, when councilors approved the $62.7 million combined city and school budget May 31.

The school board initially approved a $30.8 million budget in late March.

However, in Augusta the total school budget funding amount must also be approved by city councilors. School officials control how the money is spent, but city councilors set the total budget amount.

The budget validation warrant article going to Augusta residents for a vote Tuesday asks, simply, “Do you favor approving the City of Augusta School Budget for the upcoming school (year) that was adopted at the City Council meeting May 31, 2018.”

Superintendent James Anastasio said that means the school budget that residents will be voting on is the one with $300,000 cut from it by councilors, not the budget approved by the school board in March. So the school board will vote, again, on the budget Wednesday at its 7 p.m. meeting in council chambers at Augusta City Center.


Anastasio said the budget articles on the school board agenda for Wednesday won’t be acted upon if voters don’t approve the school budget Tuesday. He said he’s not assuming the budget will pass.

Augusta residents have not voted against approving a school budget since the state created the budget validation system several years ago.

“If, God forbid, (residents) vote it down, I’ll amend the agenda accordingly,” said Edward Hastings, chairman of the school board. “I didn’t see any reason to wait. We did what the city council asked us to do.”

Hasting said he believes, after meeting with administrators, enough changes can be made to the school budget so major new cuts won’t be necessary. He said there is expected to be some savings due to some staff turnover since the budget was first presented, not filling a bookkeeping position could save additional money, a position will be shifted so part of the costs for it would be covered by federal grant funding, and the district has money left over that it had set aside for contract negotiations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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