AUGUSTA — The Augusta Board of Education has approved a $36.6 million budget for the 2023-24 school year.

While the decision Wednesday night received support from the seven board members who were present for the vote, it was not unanimous.

The eighth board member, Kati McCormick, packed up and left before the vote, saying she did “not have enough time to thoroughly look at the budget,” which was submitted to the board a month later than in past years.

The $36,611,643 spending plan includes $35,761,618 for prekindergarten through 12th grade and the Capital Area Technical Center, and $850,025 for the adult education program. 

The budget is typically drafted by the district’s business manager, but was assembled this year by Superintendent Jim Anastasio and Assistant Superintendent Mike Tracy after the district’s business manager resigned abruptly in January.

McCormick told the Kennebec Journal on Thursday her departure from the meeting was not “meant to be dramatic.” She said she left so she did not have to abstain from voting on the 19 different warrant articles that make up the budget.


McCormick said the Board of Education usually gets a draft of the budget in early February, but did not receive a draft this year until March.  

While the board waited for the administration to “locate the budget” on the former business manager’s hard drive, she said the board was asked to make decisions about the budget without having a draft of the proposed spending plan.

“The board agreed to cancel a previously scheduled meeting or two in February to allow more time for the superintendent, assistant superintendent and interim business manager to create a draft budget,” McCormick wrote in an email. “Even without a draft, the board was informed of the need to fill a $6 million-hole, close (Lillian P. Hussey School) and cut teachers, as the Kennebec Journal previously accurately reported.” 

The administration and the Board of Education considered cutting teachers and closing Lillian P. Hussey School to close the budget gap, before deciding two weeks ago to close the gap by adding carryover and undesignated funds to the proposed budget. 

McCormick said the final version of the recommended budget was given to the board a day before its March 15 meeting, and “not to the public” until about 10 days ago. She compared it to a group project that was submitted to the teacher after the due date but that was still expected to be graded. 

The Board of Education presented the proposed budget to the public last week, but no members of the public attended the meeting.


The board and the public previously would have had a solid month to six weeks to go through the 3,000-plus lines of the budget to go over it with as fine tooth a comb as they wish, or they can opt to not review it and accept it as is,” McCormick wrote in her email.

During Wednesday’s meeting, McCormick referenced numerous requests made by the Kennebec Journal to school administrators over the past week seeking clarification about budget figures for the current year, which had been posted online but that did not match the numbers approved by voters in June.

McCormick asked for clarity from Anastasio, who denied having received emails from a reporter and told the board Wednesday, “We have no secrets whatsoever.” 

Administrators responded Thursday to the requests.

The proposed school budget represents an increase of about $1.8 million to the $33.9 million budget for 2022-23.

Also on Wednesday, Anastasio told the Board of Education about an additional $561,984 the district is to receive from the state after the Maine Department of Education reported an error Tuesday afternoon in state subsidy calculations.

At the superintendent’s recommendation, the board approved adding the funds to reduce the burden on taxpayers.

The Board of Education is expected to present the school spending plan in April for City Council approval.

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