Franklin Countys First News

RSU 9 budget referendum is today

FARMINGTON - Residents of the Regional School Unit 9 towns will go to the polls to cast their votes on this year's school budget for the third time Tuesday. At stake will be approximately $980,000 in cuts made to the school board's proposed budget at the Sept. 5 budget meeting.

Poll locations and times can be found below.

Last Tuesday, more than 300 residents approved a $32,656,920 budget. That included flat-funding every cost center at the same figure approved for the previous fiscal year's budget, with the exception of debt service, which was reduced by $92,000 as previously recommended. If validated at Tuesday's referendum, the budget would represent a 0.28 percent decrease in expenditures as compared to the previous fiscal year.

Reductions, as compared to school board's recommended budget include $84,000 to regular instruction; $545,000 to special education; $24,000 to the Foster Technology Center's budget; $13,500 from athletics and co-curricular activities; $48,000 from student and staff support - a broad category that includes guidance services, school nurses, libraries, staff development and student assessment funds; $24,000 out of system administration - which includes central office and technology administration, as well as the school board; $65,000 out of school administration; $122,000 out of transportation; and $55,000 out of facilities maintenance. In addition to leaving the debt service reduction unchanged, voters at the Sept. 5 meeting made no adjustment to Article 11: All Other Expenditures, which in RSU 9 historically includes no funding.

Coupled with the $267,444 property tax assessment reduction in the director's originally-proposed budget, the budget approved at Tuesday's meeting would represent a $1,247,617 reduction to property tax assessments as compared to the previous fiscal year, or 9.8 percent.

The special education cut has garnered perhaps the most commentary from school officials, educators and taxpayers since the Sept. 5 meeting. Those in favor of the reduction had expressed the belief that the district's special education costs have risen too rapidly too quickly. Those opposed to the proposed reduction from the board's budget have argued that meeting special needs of qualifying students is a legal requirement, meaning the $545,000 reduction would need to be paid for by funds shifted out of other cost centers.

Tuesday's vote is a simple yes/no vote that will take place in a referendum-styled vote in all 10 towns. It is the third such vote in RSU 9 this year; previous budgets of $33.9 million and $33.6 million were both voted down at earlier referendums by 184 votes and 139 votes, respectively.

A "yes" vote approves the $32.6 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. A "no" vote rejects the budget, effectively restarting the process for the third time.

Polling places and times (note: some times have changed since the previous vote)

Chesterville Town Office, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Farmington Community Center, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Industry Town Hall, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
New Sharon Town Office, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
New Vineyard Smith Hall, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Starks Community Center, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Temple Town Hall, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Vienna Fire Station, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Weld Town Office, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Wilton Town Office, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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51 Responses »

  1. The budget meeting is at 7 pm in the forum.