FAIRFIELD — The school district’s budget proposal has been torpedoed for the second time in as many months, a sharp rebuke from residents that caps a tumultuous year and comes just days before the controversial superintendent’s resignation is scheduled to take effect.

Residents of School Administrative District 49’s four towns rejected the proposed school budget of $27.36 million in a referendum Tuesday.

The budget failed with a total of 290 “no” votes to 262 “yes” votes. Unofficial results in individual towns in SAD 49 were: Albion, 51 no, 42 yes; Benton, 49-61; Clinton, 50-62, 1 blank; and Fairfield, 140-97.

Officials at SAD 49 remained silent on the outcome a day after the vote. Both Superintendent Reza Namin and school board Chairman Shawn Knox did not respond to repeated requests for comment Wednesday by email and phone message.

The rejected budget reflected a $56,477 decrease in spending from the out-of-balance budget that was overwhelmingly shot down at the last referendum, on June 11, 586-325.

Namin, whose tenure ends Aug. 2, explained that the changes to the reduced budget included adding one reading-recovery position and a special education position at Lawrence High School, and using the eliminated director of operations position to offset the costs.

That budget also included 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.

This second rejection will send the budget back once again to the beginning of the two-step approval process, which involves a public warrant meeting followed by a referendum.

Because no budget was approved by July 1, the district has had to rely on an interim budget of $27.15 million.

This rejection has come on the heels of a year of turmoil for SAD 49 that included the fallout from Namin’s proposed restructuring plans, which resulted in $417,665 in buy-outs for former administrators and the more recent resignation of three school board members — Shelley Rudnicki, Caroline Toto-Lawrence and Tim Martin.

 


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