Jon Moody, superintendent of Maine School Administrative District 54, center, speaking with a student last year. Voters in the Skowhegan-area school district on Wednesday accepted the proposed $48.89 million budget for the next fiscal year. The budget now goes to a June 11 validation referendum. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel file

SKOWHEGAN — Voters in the six towns served by Maine School Administrative District 54 accepted the proposed $48.89 million budget Wednesday night at the district’s budget validation meeting, leaving a June 11 validation referendum as the final step in the spending plan’s approval.

About 60 residents, including most of the district’s 23-member board of directors, approved all 19 budget articles in less than 20 minutes — with no discussion — at the Skowhegan Area High School gymnasium.

The proposed spending plan for 2024-25 represents an increase of about $7.05 million, or 16.84%, to the budget approved last year. The portion of the budget funded by local property taxes is projected to increase by 3.95%.

Much of the increase in total spending is attributed to state funding that passes through the district for construction of the district’s $75 million consolidated elementary school.

The state is picking up about 94% of the cost to build the Margaret Chase Smith Community School on Heselton Street in Skowhegan. Local fundraising is expected to cover the rest of the cost, meaning local taxpayers are not expected to pay any of the cost of construction.

Subtracting the state funding for the school construction and other state revenues, such as funding for career and technical education, the budget reflects an effective increase of $2.38 million, or 5.7%, to current spending.


Most of that total is attributable to negotiated salaries and benefits for the district’s more than 500 full-time employees, along with increased costs of supplies and contracted services due to inflation, according to MSAD 54 officials. Health insurance costs, for example, are up 11.22% from the budget approved last year, Superintendent Jon Moody said.

Though the overall increase in local property taxes is 3.95%, the increase in property taxes for each of the district’s six towns — Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield — varies because of changes in state property valuations. Each town’s share of the budget is calculated based on its valuation in relation to the total valuation of the six towns.

If voters approve the proposed budget in June, the assessments for each town would increase by the following amounts from the spending plan approved last year:

• Canaan: $82,941, or 7.14%.

• Cornville: $6,570, or 0.73%.

• Mercer: $39,850, or 6.63%.


• Norridgewock: $111,667, or 5.67%.

• Skowhegan: $261,031, or 2.69%.

• Smithfield: $109,951, or 9.54%.

District officials worked to reduce the impact on local taxpayers by freezing spending during the current school year, obtaining grant funds and using an additional $1.22 million from the fund balance, according to budget information published by MSAD 54. The budget also includes a dozen cuts to positions.

The polls for the district budget validation referendum June 11 are scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Skowhegan, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock and Smithfield.

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