FAIRFIELD — The School Administrative District 49 School Board voted to accept a revised budget of $27.12 million at a meeting Monday evening.

At last week’s budget workshop the board took steps to reduce costs and arrived at a revised budget of $27.17 million by rearranging a special education position between two schools and aligning the budget with changes in salaries and personnel benefits for the upcoming year and with the cost of natural gas, the rate of which is anticipated to be less this school year.

School Board Chair Shawn Knox said the district was paying in the range of $1.24 to $1.66 per therm for natural gas last year and that the rate is expected to drop to $0.685 for this year.

At Monday’s meeting, the numbers fell an additional $21,500 thanks to more reductions in areas such as system administration, transportation and most notably electricity.

School Board Vice Chairwoman Jenny Boyden led the way to amend the facilities management article, decreasing the budgeted amount by $30,000.

“I’ve looked into the energy portion of the budget, and we were a fair amount over-budgeted last year,” Boyden said. “We were in the realm of $59,000 over, so I’d like to see us reduce that by at least $30,000.”

Last year the district budgeted $289,000 for electricity but spent only $230,000, she said.

“The proposed reduction of $30,000 will leave a budget of $259,650 for electricity costs,” Boyden said. “This recognizes the likelihood of rate increases and allows for an 11% increase above last year’s spending. It is a reduction of the budgeted amount.”

The rest of the board agreed with Boyden, and an amendment to reduce the electricity line by $30,000 passed.

The newly accepted budget reflects a $250,834 decrease from the last approved budget on July 9 and a $36,218 decrease from the original budget that was presented at a meeting in May, making this the lowest proposed budget the board has presented yet.

“This is the lowest budget we’ve put forward, and it doesn’t cut any positions or make any drastic changes that the kids would notice day-to-day,” board member Katie Flood said.

If the new version passes the budget meeting on Aug. 29, it will go to referendum for the third time on Sept. 12. Two previous budgets were shot down by voters in June and July.

“We’re really hoping to get this one passed,” Knox said, pointing out that it costs $10,000 every time the budget has to go through the meeting and referendum process..

The district includes Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield.

The budget disputes have coincided with the departure of Superintendent Reza Namin, whose resignation took effect on Aug. 2. Namin’s tenure with SAD 49 was rife with controversy over his divisive restructuring plan that eventually cost the district $417,665 in administrative buyouts.

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