PITTSFIELD — Residents from the three towns of Maine School Administrative District 53 gave preliminary approval to the district’s proposed $13.8 million budget, a 2.98% increase compared to the current budget.

Roughly 40 people from Burnham, Detroit and Pittsfield gathered Tuesday at the Warsaw Middle School gym to vote on the 17 articles in the budget. Now that the articles have been approved, the budget goes to a referendum in the three towns, scheduled for June 13.

The meeting moved quickly and voters approved all of the warrant articles. The expenses in the budget total $13,807,527, an overall increase of $398,916. The plan includes funding for a part-time school resource officer who would work four hours a day, five days a week.

The district used to have a full-time officer but the position was cut in last year’s budget cycle. When the budget was presented to the Pittsfield Town Council last month, councilors had asked about bringing back the position, and how the town could support that, prompting the school board to add money for it.

Superintendent Sherry Littlefield previously said she is working with the Pittsfield town manager and police chief to see if there may be grant funding available for the position as well.

The budget includes moving money from the district’s general fund into capital reserves, which will not impact taxes. The proposal would move $100,000 into a building reserve, $75,000 into a special education reserve and another $75,000 into a technology reserve.


Although the budget may increase by just less than 3%, the three towns will see larger increases in their contributions due to the rising state valuations of the towns. The total to be raised from the towns is just more than $6.1 million, a roughly 7% increase from last year.

That is even after the district included the use of $500,000 of undesignated funds to lower the amount to be raised by the towns.

“We haven’t been able to do that every year, but we have a pretty healthy fund balance out right now, and it’s important that we keep taxes down for all three towns,” Littlefield said.

Burnham’s portion of the budget is roughly $1.5 million, an 8.76% increase; Detroit’s portion is just more than $1 million, a 7.86% increase; and Pittsfield’s part is $3.6 million, a 6.16% increase.

Many Maine school districts, including MSAD 53, recently learned that they will receive more state funding for the 2023-24 school year than originally anticipated due to an error in the initial funding allocation. MSAD 53 is set to receive about $142,000 more than originally expected.

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