WINSLOW — After a contentious budget season, the School Board, with the approval of Winslow voters, unanimously passed the final $15.57 million education budget for the 2018-19 academic year without discussion at its Monday evening meeting. The meeting was its last as a member of Alternative Organizational Stucture 92.

Over the last several months, the board went back and forth with the Town Council on funding for the town’s public schools as councilors raised concerns about the impact on the taxpayers due to the substantial 8 percent budget increase.

Eventually, the council restored $140,000 to the budget, which saved a teaching position and the librarian position for the junior high. The $57,758 in cuts to the budget increase will, however, effectively eliminate five education technician I’s who monitor lunch and recess; scale back an employee working part time as a teacher and part time as an education technician III; and nix the refinishing a gymnasium floor and the auxiliary gymnasium floor, some repairs and maintenance sports fields, and the purchase of new computers for technology staff.

According to a tax document from Councilor Ken Fletcher, the property tax rate will increase by $0.94 per $1,000 in property valuation, which would increase taxes by $137 per year for the median property valued at $146,000.

The board also touched on the recount for the $8.1 million school renovation bond, which Winslow voters passed at the June election by a narrow margin of 881-825 with 194 ballots that left the question blank.

Phil St. Onge, an opponent of the school bond, filed a petition with more than 100 signatures to force a recount as he said he is concerned by number of blank ballots and wants to examine them.

Peter Thiboutot, the assistant superintendent for AOS 92, said he spoke with Town Manager Mike Heavener and has learned the recount will take place on July 10 at 2 p.m.

Thiboutot said the board needs to choose two people to represent them officially at the recount. St. Onge, and one other person, will be represent those who signed the recount petition.

The recount process will be open to the public.

It was a unusually sentimental meeting Monday as it was the board’s last as part of AOS 92. Voters from Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow voted to terminate the district in November.

Winslow schools will be an independent district beginning July 1. The communities, however, will still be leaning on each other through interlocal agreements for contract services.

Peter Thiboutot, who will be Winslow’s new superintendent, said the central office is in the process of interviewing applicants for the finance assistant, instruction specialist and secretary.

Eric Haley and Paula Pooler, who have worked as the district’s superintendent and finance director, respectively, for the last nine years, said goodbye to the Winslow board and administrators and thanked them for their professionalism and team work. They both will be working for Waterville schools at the start of next month. Pooler still will be working somewhat closely with Winslow as she will continue to oversee the finances of all three communities.

The board presented the two administrators with a plaque, thanking them for their dedicated service.

“It’s been quite a ride for 9 years and we really do appreciate your service,” School Board Chairman Joel Selwood said in closing.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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