DRESDEN — Officials in Dresden are sending flyers to residents urging they vote against Regional School Unit 2’s proposed $32.6 million budget for the 2021-22 school year.

Dresden has been vocal about the school budget from the start of the district’s budgeting process, and town selectmen voted Tuesday night to go forth with appointing a withdrawal committee to explore Dresden’s leaving RSU 2, according to Town Administrator Michael Faass.

Town officials said they created the flyer because if proposed, the spending plan would result in “more bureaucracy and less control” and “property taxes would go up at least $200.”

The flyer has been posted to Dresden’s unofficial town Facebook page, where it had received 40 comments and nine shares as of Thursday afternoon, with people commenting in support of or opposition to the budget. It has also been posted on the town’s website.

Faass said he supported the selectman’s stance, which is to vote against the budget. He said he does not have a child in the school district, but “$200 on a fixed income is a lot.”

The flyer urges residents ask themselves: “Has your salary or fixed income raised by 8.8%? How will this impact other town services? And, has the quality of our children’s education improved?”

Dresden resident Jess Warren said he supports the proposed budget.

“RSU 2 stated their insurance is increasing and, being in the insurance business myself, this is a very real and costly obstacle all insured are dealing with right now,” she said. “Coupled with the month-by-month inflation jumps, I’m shocked the increase will only be 8%.

“Overall, I think it was handed poorly by our town officials and this is an attempt to reach voters who haven’t formed an opinion with biased misinformation.”

Warren was referring to the school board insurance rate, which is up 22% due to events around the country over the past year, according to RSU 2. The insurance rate for school employees decreased by $145,000 and is not related to the school board insurance rate.

If the school budget were approved, Dresden could see its cost for insurances expenses increase by 8.8%.

RSU 2 pays for its spending with state funding, which is based on the size of the district, as well as town allocations. Because the school district covers five municipalities — Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth and Richmond — its board of directors has approved spending beyond what state guidelines recommend.

Dresden resident Marge Kilkelly commented on the Facebook post about the flyer, writing, “Is there a fact sheet for both sides of the issue?”

Kilkelly declined to comment further on the issue, but wanted to make sure “the conversation was balanced.”

Dresden resident Carol Sanborn, who has a child in the district, urged every voter look at the facts to make an informed decision. She said she was upset to see the town take a position on the issue.

Sanborn said the RSU 2 teaching staff has worked hard to keep schools safe for children during the coronavirus pandemic. Sanborn said when her son was a close COVID-19 contact, he “never missed a beat.”

“I don’t like paying higher taxes, but it’s an investment in money to our kids and neighborhood children,” Sanborn said. “It doesn’t do any good if just my children are educated. I want the neighbor’s kids to be, too, so they can learn and function as a society.”

Former RSU 2 board member Jeffrey Pierce, whose resignation was announced at the board’s May 6 meeting, joined in on the discussion. His school board position can be appointed by the town, and one of the candidates for the seat, Jeffrey Bickford, was outspoken on Facebook, asking how many people have attended the school board’s budget hearings.

“I attended the one on May 18 and there were 55 total (participants) from the community,” Bickford wrote. “I asked many questions that weren’t even addressed. For far too long our taxes have been monopolized by the public education system.”

Bickford’s wife, Leah Bickford, wrote she “highly doubts any of you saying you would support the increase in budget have the slightest idea of what it’s going towards.”

RSU 2 officials have attributed the increase in proposed spending to teacher contracts and expenses beyond the district’s control, including athletics, which aren not fully funded by the state, or building costs.

Dresden Elementary School Principal Sara Derosby has invited residents to a meeting next Wednesday with RSU 2 Superintendent Tonya Arnold to discuss questions and concerns relayed to the proposed budget ahead of the June 8 vote.

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