WALES — If last year’s budget battle is any indication, passing one taxpayers agree with this year will be just as hard for Regional School Unit 4.

It took four votes last year to approve a budget, which was cut nearly $1 million to $21.57 million before it passed by 50 votes.

This year’s proposal approved by a majority of the school board is $23.37 million, an 8.34% increase over the current budget. Voters will get their first opportunity to vote on it at 6:30 p.m. May 15 at the Oak Hill High School gymnasium.

Libby Tozier School on Academy Road in Litchfield, seen Aug. 1, 2022, is one of two schools being considered for consolidation by Regional School District 4. The other is Sabattus Primary School. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The school board budget meetings have been long and tense at times. Members have wrangled over faculty and staff positions, a proposal to close the district central office and sell the property and reduce or eliminate everything from field trips to EpiPens. Another issue is a proposal to vacate Sabattus Primary School. It and Libby Tozier School in Litchfield are in need of major repairs.

At the school board meeting Wednesday night, board member Nicole Russell of Sabattus repeatedly raised her opposition to the proposed budget. “I don’t think an 8% increase is appropriate or fair.”

An added element is the town of Litchfield is still deciding if it will withdraw from RSU 4 — a decision that may be put to voters in November or possibly next year.

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