WINTHROP — The Winthrop Public Schools budget passed 454 to 302. 

This was the second budget validation referendum vote. It was voted down on June 11, 350-206.

The new school budget will be $12,108,158.65, an increase of 2.77% or $325,808.29 more than the 2018-2019 budget. The burden on taxpayers will be $6,922,345.88, a 3.73% increase or $249,148.52 more than the previous local share of $6,673,197.36.

Charles and Nancy Shumen said that youth — and the town’s school system — is the most important thing Winthrop has and the reason that they built there 33 years ago. 

“Winthrop has a tremendously rated school system,” said Charles Shumen, “and if they do not have the money to operate it, (the rating) is going to go down, and our property values are going to go down.”

The Shumens’ two children attended Winthrop Public Schools, and now three of their six grandchildren are enrolled. 

“I think that (residents) showed their support for community and their schools,” said Cornelia Brown. 

Election worker Lorraine Fleury watches Tuesday as a voter drops a ballot into the box during a school budget special election at Winthrop Town Office. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

When the budget failed to pass in June, councilors speculated that residents were feeling angst with the municipal budget and voted down the school budget.

“We do not have a vote on town budget, but we do on school budget,” said Randy Hooper, whose two sons once attended the district. “If we can lower the school budget, we should. 

“I am going to do whatever I can to keep my burden down, ” he said, pointing to a man entering the town office, “and others around me.”

As a council form of government, councilors approve the municipal budget rather than the Town Meeting form where residents give final approval to a select board on spending. Winthrop residents do, however, have the ultimate decision about whether they approve their school budget.

While Bartley Wheeler expressed frustration with municipal expenditures, he said how he voted did not reflect his inability to vote for that budget.

“This has nothing to do with the other,” he said. “There is one circle in there, and that is for the schools.”

Election worker Cleo Skolfield checks a voter’s name before giving a ballot during Tuesday’s special school budget vote at the Winthrop Town Office. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Voter turnout was greater this time around. Tuesday, 756 people voted while in June 556 people voted.

Brown said that the Winthrop School Committee put together a group of volunteers who made signs, advertised in the Community Advertiser and had folks write letters. 

“It really made the difference,” she said. 

Council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller said the voters showed clear support for students and educators. 

“We will be able to start the school year on sound footing and move forward,” she said. 

The budget was approved 4-3 by the Town Council on July 1. Fuller, Vice Chairwoman Priscilla Jenkins and councilors Andy Wess and Scott Eldridge were in favor. Councilors Linda Caprara, Barbara Buck and Rita Moran voted against it.

This spending plan represents a $92,999.35 decrease from the budget presented on June 11, which was $12,201,158. 

Wearing a red, white and blue dress, 4-year-old Madelynn followed her mother, Amanda Hinkley, into the Town Office for voting. For Hinkley, voting during the referendum was personal. 

“They go to the school,” said Hinkley, putting her arms around her young daughters. Madelynn is about to enter pre-kindergarten and her older sister, Savannah, 7 will be a second-grader. 

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