FAIRFIELD — Local residents will decide the fate of a reduced budget of $27.36 million for School Administrative District 49 in Tuesday’s referendum, following rejection of a spending plan last month at the polls.

The new budget, which the school board approved July 9, reflects a $56,477 spending decrease from the version voters rejected June 11 but a $214,616 spending increase from the originally proposed $27.15 million plan. SAD 49 consists of Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield.

Polls are open from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Besse Building in Albion, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Benton Town Office, noon to 8 p.m. at the Clinton Town Office and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Center.

From left, Reza Namin, superintendent of School Administrative District 49; Shelley Rudnicki, school board chairwoman; and Tim Martin, vice chairman listen to school board member Kara Kugelmeyer express her concern April 11 about changes in legal counsel during a board meeting at Lawrence Junior High School in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

At the last referendum, voters were asked to decide whether to approve an out-of-balance budget that included more expenses than revenue to fund the spending and a 6% tax increase. Overwhelmingly, the communities rejected the plan with 586 “no” votes to 325 “yes” votes.

The rejection meant that the budget returned to its originally proposed amount and began the two-step approval process once more while the district operated on the interim budget of $27.15 million in the meantime.

Superintendent Reza Namin, whose resignation takes effect Aug. 2, explained that the changes to the new budget include adding one reading-recovery position and special education position at Lawrence High School and using the elimination of the director of operations position to offset the costs.

The revised budget includes increases of $118,133 for regular instruction, $200,234 for special education and $5,397 for staff and support. There are decreases of $59,012 for transportation and $50,136 for facilities management.

At the board’s July 9 meeting, then-board member Shelley Rudnicki moved to amend both the regular instruction and special education articles. Seconded by Caroline Toto-Lawrence, Rudnicki’s move proposed to reduce the budget for regular instruction by $300,000 and special education by $200,000.

After a debate among the board members, Rudnicki’s amendments were rejected unanimously, and the budget plan passed with the original amounts.

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