WINSLOW — The Town Council approved a resolution Monday putting the school budget on next month’s ballot after voting it down earlier this month, even if the Council can’t revise it in time for the election.

The Town Council had voted down next year’s proposed school budget in a 3-3 vote during a contentious meeting April 29. Concerns arose afterward that the school budget would require its own special election.

Though a revised budget has not yet been finalized, councilors unanimously approved a resolution at a meeting Monday night putting the budget on the June ballot.

To place a revised budget on the ballot, town officials needed to convene two special sessions to tweak the budget, present it to the public, and come to a consensus among themselves, all by June 1.

Even if that deadline were met, voters may not have had solid numbers until ballots are mailed out, Town Clerk Audra Fleury said.

“The paperwork that we signed this evening has no number attached, it is just to hold an election for the school budget,” Fleury said Monday. “We have no physical numbers. We will not have those numbers unless something passes through the council, or after June 1. As of June 2, we will be able to accept school ballots and the numbers will be available at that time.”


If those steps are not taken, voters will be approving or denying the district’s initial $20 million budget proposal that the council voted down, according to town attorney William A. Lee III. The amount represents a roughly 7% increase from the year prior.

“If the town has not passed a budget by June 1, then the budget that was prepared and presented by the town manager becomes the budget,” Lee said. “The school portion of which is subject to that referendum in June and the municipal portion would be final as of June 1.”

About 77% of the proposed budget consists of staff salaries and benefits, according to district Superintendent Peter Thiboutot, which he said is on par with most other districts in the area.

Opposition mounted to that proposal amid concerns of higher taxes and budgetary overruns. Councilors Adam Lint, Fran Hudson and Mike Joseph voted against the budget, citing the hiring of four new positions they called unnecessary: a dean of students at the elementary school, a contracted student evaluator and two student support positions at the elementary and high school.

Teachers, school administrators and parents have said the new roles are necessary to address changes in student behavior since the pandemic and an increasing number of students in special education programs.

Thiboutot has said the district now contracts out the two student support roles it intended to hire and would have been saving money by doing so. Even if it got rid of the positions entirely, he said, the district is still bound by law to provide their services to students.

Town officials have previously said that both residents’ tax bills and Winslow’s mill rate will not increase this year as they dip into a pool of unassigned funds to offset increases in both the municipal and school budgets.

A number of districts around central Maine have been facing sharp budget increases this year as COVID-era federal funds expire. Some have eliminated teaching positions to cut costs, while others have opted to raise tax bills. Thiboutot previously said Winslow schools have remained largely unaffected by those problems.

As of May 14, town officials have not yet scheduled either of the two special sessions needed to revise the budget.

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