FAIRFIELD — Residents in the local school district will be asked Tuesday to approve an out-of-balance school budget of $27.42 million that includes an increase proposed by voters at a May meeting but a lack of tax dollars to pay for the change.

The discrepancy means that, if the budget passes, the school board in School Administrative District 49 will likely go back and propose cuts post-approval by the public to ensure the district’s expenses don’t outweigh its revenues.

Residents in the four towns in the district are scheduled to vote in a referendum Tuesday on the budget, which comes after a May 14 meeting where they voted to add $271,093 into the budget proposed by district administration and the school board.

It would take a 9.5% tax increase to fund the budget, but at the same time residents approved extra spending last month, they failed to approve an increase to taxes to fund the spending. The budget currently calls for a 6% tax increase.

The district includes Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield.

“If the budget passes, there will be no change to the proposed local (tax) shares,” Superintendent Reza Namin said in an email Friday. “However, at the May 14th meeting the expense articles were increased while the revenue article was not. The budget is not in balance. The School Board will have to address this.”


In an email Monday, school board Chair Shawn Knox said that, pending the passage of the budget, the board will propose reductions to align with the anticipated revenues of the district.

Dr. Reza Namin

“We appreciate the feedback received from the community,” Knox said. “The Board will consider that input as we evaluate the budget and consider making necessary adjustments within said articles.”

Meanwhile, Steve Grenier, a former school board chair who served for 19 years on and off between 1993 and 2014 and was behind the proposals to increase spending, said Monday he is “strongly recommending” the public not pass the budget as is.

“My recommendation is to vote this budget down, then we can go back to another districtwide meeting and propose a budget that makes better sense for the district,” Grenier said.

This is the first year the district has implemented school-based budgets with numbers originating out of budgets put together by principals and school councils, rather than administrators.

At the May meeting, residents prompted by Grenier voted to increase spending on regular instruction — which includes things like teacher salaries, books and supplies that directly impact students — and decrease spending on administration.


The total difference resulted in an increase of $271,093 from what the board originally proposed.

Grenier said at the time the intention was to fund an increase in regular instruction as opposed to a $95,000 cut proposed by the district and reduce the budget for administration by $95,014.

Grenier, who had also proposed other changes at the May meeting that ultimately were not approved, said Monday he wanted to see the district appropriate a 2.47% increase for each line item in the budget and add funds for a new education technician.

He said he would also keep an $87,800 item to cover an increase in costs for gasoline for a total increase in the budget of 2.88%.

Meanwhile, Namin stood by the budget Monday, saying it is “fiscally responsible and has shifted the funds from administrators into the classroom.”

He also said the budget includes four new teaching positions.

“I hope that taxpayers will speak up and respect whatever happens to the taxpayers’ vote,” Namin said in an email. “I know that our communities are very supportive of our schools and we thank them all.”

Polls are open 2 to 8 p.m. at the Albion Town Office; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Benton Town Office; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clinton Town Office; and 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Center.

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