AUGUSTA – The Augusta School Department has asked the city to fund an additional $800,000 for the next school year because of a mistake in its budget.

City officials pointed out the error to administrators days before a public hearing on the proposed $80.3 million city and school budget, which includes Augusta’s share of the Kennebec County budget. The news comes less than a week after the Board of Education approved a $36.6 million spending plan for the district.

Superintendent Jim Anastasio said the issue entailed school administrators using an outdated version of the current year’s budget — from before the City Council ordered $1 million to be cut last year — as a reference when building the budget for 2023-24.

The mistake does not affect the total amount of the budget, according to Anastasio, but increases the amount to be raised through taxation by more than 6%, from about $13.2 million to $14,093,768. 

It also effectively cancels out the impact of  a $562,000 windfall the district recently received after the Maine Department of Education made a separate error in calculating  funding allocations for districts statewide. Augusta school officials had planned to use that money to lessen the amount taxpayers would have to shoulder.

The Board of Education plans to wait until after April 11, when it presents the school budget to City Council, to see if it must make cuts in light of the finding.


“There is no good solution here,” Anastasio said. “I said publicly we didn’t want to cut staff, and we still don’t, and also said publicly that we don’t want to ask for more taxes to the city, but that promise can’t be kept.”

He told the Board of Education on Monday he “feels awful” about the error, which he said Assistant City Manager Jared Mills pointed out to him.

The Kennebec Journal also pointed out numerous times to Anastasio and other school officials over email, as early as March 21, that the budget for the current year posted on the district’s website did not match what voters approved at the polls in June. Days later, Anastasio denied having received emails from a reporter and told the Board of Education last week “we have no secrets whatsoever.” 

Anastasio said that the reason he and other officials used the version of the budget posted on the district’s website — which they did not realize was outdated — was because they could not locate the budget on the hard drive of the district’s former business manager, who abruptly resigned in January.

“What happened was, when the board made the reduction for the $1 million (ordered by the City Council), the business manager provided that information to the city but never changed that documentation here,” Anastasio said. 

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.