WALES — It took five hours Monday night, but Regional School Unit 4 has a voter-approved budget that faces a second vote in the general election Nov. 7.

Voters will decide yes or no on a $21.57 million budget for the current school year. Voters rejected the last budget of $21.76 million on Oct. 3.

A fourth budget was approved by the board of directors in an emergency meeting Oct. 12 for $21.86 million, $100,000 more than the rejected budget. The board added back a high school teacher position and a grade four teacher position for a partial year, due to feedback from the community, a board member said. That figure was questioned and debated by residents who turned out for the budget meeting at Oak Hill High School.

“These budgets are going to get rejected every time,” declared a resident from Wales who identified himself only as “Ryan.” “What we don’t need is the excessive bureaucracy sitting at the top end. Until we figure that out, good luck getting any of these budgets passed,” he added, which was met with applause from other residents.

Oak Hill High School in Wales is shown Oct. 18. Voters in Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales will go to the polls Nov. 7 to cast ballots on a fourth budget proposal for 2023-24. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The meeting was confusing, with multiple motions on the floor, secret ballots and a changing article approval process that jumped from one cost center to another.

Over the course of four more hours, $190,000 was shaved off the budget and finally approved by voters. A move to cut the central office budget by $160,000 was called out by Superintendent Katy Grondin as potentially “catastrophic” and it was eventually defeated.

In the end, the following reductions were made to the board’s most recently approved budget of $21.86 million: System Administration $20,000, School Administration $20,000, Facilities Maintenance $287,617, with a total of $45,473 added to the Regular Instruction cost center.

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