Franklin Countys First News

Updated: Mt. Blue school budget passes

[Updated 9:05 p.m.: We've updated this story to include the Vienna results]

FARMINGTON - Voters in the 10-member towns of Mt. Blue Regional School District decided against sending the budget back to the school board Tuesday, approving a $32 million budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The $32,043,907 budget represents an increase of $1 million over the previous fiscal year, or 3.2 percent.

Higher turnouts in some towns gave the budget a boost, with a total of 999 'yes' votes and 892 'no' votes cast, according to preliminary, unofficial totals from the town clerks. Farmington saw a 200-vote uptick, all but one of them in favor of the revised budget, while the towns of Temple, Vienna and Industry saw smaller increases that either closed or reduced the yes/no gap.

Wilton saw a large decrease in turnout, from 546 total votes to 372, with more than two-thirds of the decrease impacting the no vote count. Unlike today's vote, the June 9 referendum had included a vote for a contested selectman's seat.

In general, the turnout was up approximately 200 votes across the entire district. Six towns were in favor of the budget: Farmington, Wilton, Weld, Starks, Industry and Vienna, and four towns were opposed: Chesterville, New Sharon, New Vineyard and Temple.

After voters rejected the $32.2 million budget that came out of the June 1 budget meeting at the polls on June 9, the school board proposed $200,000 in local budget cuts. Those cuts, which included approximately two positions, supply line reductions and reducing a special education contingency line in half, were then approved by residents attending a second, districtwide budget meeting on June 21.

The budget also incorporates an extra $25 million in state subsidy that was appropriated by the Legislature as part of a 2-year, $80 million General Aid to Education to reduce the education mil rate. That decision was made after the first June school district budget votes. That rate, which sets the amount of money each town must raise to receive subsidy, will fall from 8.41 to 8.23. Last year's education mil rate was 8.1.  For MBRSD, that extra subsidy represents $301,000 that the towns will no longer be required to raise.

The July 28 vote of the Mt. Blue Regional School District towns
Chesterville: 29 yes, 96 no.
Farmington: 472 yes, 233 no.
Industry: 51 yes, 45 no.
New Sharon: 72 yes, 196 no.
New Vineyard: 19 yes, 70 no.
Starks: 47 yes, 8 no.
Temple: 54 yes, 57 no.
Vienna: 28 yes, 17 no.
Weld: 19 yes, 6 no.
Wilton: 208 yes, 164 no.

Total: 999 yes, 892 no. (the second budget has passed)

The June 9 vote of the Mt. Blue Regional School District towns
Chesterville: 27 yes, 108 no.
Farmington: 262 yes, 234 no.
Industry: 39 yes, 48 no.
New Sharon: 54 yes, 215 no.
New Vineyard: 12 yes, 69 no.
Starks: 31 yes, 6 no.
Temple: 20 yes, 42 no.
Vienna: 20 yes, 26 no.
Weld: 19 yes, 6 no.
Wilton: 260 yes, 286 no.

Total: 741 yes, 1,045 no. (the first budget failed to pass)

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47 Responses »

  1. What excellent news! Education is the foundation for a healthy and thriving society.

  2. There is no better use of my tax dollars! Great news for our children and their futures.

  3. House for sale

  4. Allow me to be the first to congratulate the Ministry of Truth in it's resounding victory over the lowly tax burdened Proles! I should think that next year, RSU 9 should consider increasing the budget to include a class on fiscal responsibility with mandatory attendance demanded of all taxpayers. This would educate the poor fools whose pocketbooks are full, that the needs, desires, and whims of RSU 9 far outweigh the basic necessities of the fixed income and low income masses.

  5. nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. get used to it, get over it, or get out of town.

  6. The people that could not take the time to go vote better not gripe when they see their taxes go up. The vote was close, votes count people so if you didn't vote don't blame anyone but yourself for your tax increase.

    We need to get the school budget vote back to town meetings like it used to be. There would be a much higher voter turn out if we do.

  7. This is a bitter pill to swallow. I can not understand what convinced people opposed to this budget to change their minds. Time to start saving for the impact of next years budget increase. This situation is out of control.

  8. Same area same results. People give up too easily when they try to fight the school budget. They already know what the school will come back with and the employees of RSU 9 know how to beat them every time.

    Hope their happy that the ones who can't afford it have to pay it while RSU 9 employees have a better life on the backs of the ones who can't even find a job in this thriving community or are on a limited income.

  9. Dear Winston.
    Your time may be better spent trying to affect change in Augusta and Washington D.C. For we are all but 'proles'!
    The thing is is that some of us choose to focus on the beauty that is in this world, and try to change what they can to make it better(not to include complaining on the Bulldog). Some people are just stuck admiring the problem.
    I am sorry for your lot in life,but I am quite sure it isn't the fault of any student that attends schools in RSU 9. And yes, a class on fiscal responsibility and good parenting skills would be a god send. Perhaps you could teach them and that could bolster your fixed income?

  10. Good Morning from Chesterville: WE had two Storms yesterday. One at three and the second one when we received the Vote results from Farmington. I Ross Clair would like to thank each of the 125 voters that took the time yesterday to vote from our town. Also a big thanks for all that took part in voting at the town office. I believe that when the sun rose this morning both storms made us stronger. i will support all sides of the vote as we get back to work. i will make this one statement. Not one penny of the money cut from the budget will make it back into the budget threw the back DOOR. Thanks again Your working Director and Taxpayer Ross

  11. great! now my taxes are going up 300 more!

  12. as ole Ben Franklin said (paraphrasing) "the only two things In life you can count on are death and taxes. "
    Thank God you are alive today to complain about taxes!!
    Perspective, folks, perspective.

  13. Really tired of hearing your taxes will only cost you this much extra this year well how about you cover the different s for me it will ONLY cost you this much extra a year

  14. Glad we finally did the right thing. Funny that some of the towns which get the most value out of the schools relative to money contributed, came out the most strongly against them. Hey Mike with a house for sale. Your house is worth more in a community that supports its schools. Just one of the things people look for when they are looking for a place to live. For a reason. Hey Ross, crack open a 4th grade grammar book and check the difference between "threw" and "through" No ones throwing any back doors.

  15. Ross, Thank you for supporting our town. Sam, Ross probably graduated from Mt. Blue. I did, and I remember fellow students that Graduated with me that couldn't even read. We have our fancy School and the millions of dollars to support it. Isn't it time to teach the students and stop the gross amount of spending?

  16. A few thoughts. All those who voted yes are also taxpayers, making a determination about what they value in their community. I do think policies enacted in Congress and in Augusta have made it harder for people with low or fixed income. The LePage Administration has been especially friendly to the wealthy against the poor, and the state hasn't helped communities with education. We should all work together to try to change that.

    But one thing bothers me - those who denigrate the hard working staff, teachers and administrators of the district. These people are not overpaid! Indeed, they give more to the community than they receive, by any analysis. In the US we pay our education professionals less than any other advanced industrialized country, yet give them the most important task: preparing the next generation for the future. There are legitimate reasons to worry about the budget, but dissing the people who work with our children is not among them!

  17. Hey, Sam
    Ross happens to be a excellent school board member, a extremely hard worker and a great role model. So if you're insinuating that you've never made a spelling mistake, you might want to take a look in the mirror. Here at RSU 9 we teach our children not to put down and bully others. You might want to try that.

  18. This needs to be looked into. The Treasurer, as per my recollection that was her expressed title, of the town of Industry posted on the facebook page of the town of New Sharon that the figures put forth to the people by their selectmen prior to the vote were wrong, very wrong. This woman claimed that instead of the selectmen's figure of a tax increase of some $200 per $100,000 of assessment was instead supposed to be to the tune of roughly $75. The town of New Sharon saw fit to remove that information. Mistakes can be mistakes, but that would warrant a public apology and note of who did not either do their math right or do their job in double checking figures that would clearly impact the vote. New Sharon voted heavily against this budget. I am more concerned that our selectmen here purposefully swayed the vote with false information. Again, this should not be overlooked.

  19. What a pity !

  20. @ Michael Power: is that an accusation toward the New Sharon select board?

  21. If the New Sharon selectpersons made a mistake, as least it was likely an honest one and, afterall, they were trying to help their townspeople. I personally think that the school board and superintendent should apologize to the public for playing the 'any more cuts would mean the children's education will suffer ' card. This played a big part in driving the yes votes. Yet, cuts to sports, shuttle busing, and the district admin raises would not have affected anyone's education but would have lowered taxes more and helped a lot of people in the community who are struggling.

  22. Per the post that I saw from the Industry representative, I would say it warrants the numbers being run to verify and potentially questioned. Notice how I explained what I saw, and expressed my concern.

  23. To Mt Blue Student: Excellent point! Let's everyone on all sides practice treating each other with respect, recognizing that people on all sides of the issue have legitimate view points. Disagreement is good, that gives us the opportunity to learn from each other!

    I see the comments above that people knew kids in high school that couldn't read. From what I can tell, fixing that (holding more people back, implementing new programs) has been one reason for higher costs in recent years. A big problem is as these costs go up, the state funds less and less of K-12 education. State cuts in education are easily offset by wealthy suburban school districts who can offer their kids almost every advantage. We can't even try to keep up with them. But there is something wrong with a system that forces poorer districts to make cuts, gets people there mad at the school for increased costs, but address state policy or the inequities between wealthy and poorer school districts.

    The problem with high taxes is real. It's not the fault of the school board, but the way education is funded in the state. The damage more cuts would do to the education of our children is also real. To Lindy's suggestion: Should we, say, cut football from Mt. Blue and the Middle School? Cut other sports? Should we charge students to play, thereby pushing aside those who can't afford it? Should buses stop providing nearly universal service? Wow, those would be monumental changes that would require long and well considered public debate. If people want to really contemplate such cuts, discussion should start now and be based on data and evidence. I don't think cutting salaries will gain much money though, and we could lose good people.

  24. High cost education does not necessarily mean high quality education.

  25. To Mr. Erb....I am not suggesting cutting football....the most popular sport. The budget lists 14 different sports for the high school and 8 different sports for the middle school. These are rather extensive offerings, don't you think? Surely, something could be cut for the sake of struggling taxpayers. Are the kids really going to suffer? Apparently, the shuttle buses are not being utilized by very many students. They are running 65 passenger buses that get 6 mpg for one or two or a handful of kids. And, this has been going on for years. If they insist on continuing what seems to be an underused program, why don't they at least use a district car or get a van. Seems like the obvious thing to do if you are looking to save money. Why hasn't anyone thought of it before now? ...because they haven't been looking. Regarding district administration raises, aside from the clerical staff, the people in this group (all the school principals, the supt. the asst. supt, and business manager) are getting very high salaries already, and all except one, are getting a $2000+ or $3000+ raise for FY 16.

  26. The amount of misinformation spread over the course of these past several weeks is staggering and somewhat heartbreaking, for it only takes one utterance to swell into a truth upon which decisions are made.

    I'm one for hyperbole -- ask any of my students, my own children -- so I am not trying to hold myself above the fray here.

    However, when it comes to decisions as important, as vital, as the education of our kids, as the economic health of our communities, as the needs of our most vulnerable populations -- both those with fixed incomes and those who have little other support than that of the school district -- then it becomes absolutely essential we practice civil discourse and to base our comments on facts.

    I see above some numbers that are true (number of sports teams), some numbers that are false (number of shuttle busses run), and some numbers that are factually accurate but in the context of a bigger picture are not as absurd as painted, especially in light of getting value for the investment (administrative salaries).

    I'll end with yet another invite -- I've made many over the years here on the Bulldog. Start out the school year with a conversation. I'd love to sit down and work with community members most upset about the results of the vote and see what I might be able to do from my vantage point as a classroom educator to help them see a greater return on investment. Might there be programming or community service that would help those folks out? Might there be ways to turn that tax bill into a payment for a good or service that pays off sooner rather than later?

    Contact the Main Office at Mt. Blue Campus. (778-3561.) Ask for me and I'll get back to you as soon as possible a.k.a. figure out how to check my phone messages from home. Heck, if you are reading this you probably have email. First initial. Last name. At Mtbluersd.org. There we go. Eliminate the middle man altogether.

    Let's start a conversation.

  27. Roughly half the tax payers won and the other half lost. Sad state of affairs. Divide and conquer.
    At this point, the only thing worth talking about is what the school board has in store for losers next year. Is there any reason to think it will not be another 3% increase? If they could not make substantial cuts this year, what is the anticipated plan for next year?
    How about a freeze!!!

  28. Thanks Ross for doing the hard work that too many on the board lack the willingness to do.

  29. Until The administration, teachers, bus drivers, and all support staff and employees realize they work for the BOARD of Directors, these 3% increases will continue. As I see it, everyone in SAD 9 feels the board should work for them. The Board needs to take back control !

  30. Mr. Ryder, Have you looked at the school budget? Most of the info that I listed came from the budget and the superintendent. Did you misunderstand? The buses carry 65 passengers and therefore are called
    65-passenger buses. There are not 65 shuttle buses. Sorry for the confusion. I should have hyphenated it. I don't know how many buses there are, but the school should definitely be using something smaller and better on gas for the shuttles. Also, I am not suggesting that anyone's salaries be cut, but I think that those high paid in district administration could manage easily without their raises this year. Total savings for the taxpayers would have been about $24,000. Also, I don't know of anyone who is doubting the school's accomplishments or the dedication of teachers and staff, the problem is we are simply at the point where school operations cost more than the community can support.

  31. Isn't it great to spend someone else's money. We can vote ourselves all these great things, as long as someone else pays for them. Alas, we live in reality, not liberal la la land. People are hurting and cannot afford their taxes already. Perhaps those who voted Yes can cover the increase in tax burden for those who simply can't afford it, because guess what? If you can't afford your property taxes on a piece of property that you own, the government can legally steal it from you. Pretty sweet, huh? Right.

    How 'bout governments learn to make do with what they have available... just like the people they take money from. Frugality - a novel concept, I know.

  32. John Alden, the superintendent works for the board. NO ONE else does. Also, the board you wish could take more "control" is the very board who put things that were initially cut BACK INTO the budget. I don't think there's a lack of control there. On the contrary. Were you aware of that? And Mr. Clair, you seem to be accusing the very people you work with of back-door antics, considering that they were the ones who put things back into the budget, not the superintendent or other admin. Hmmm. That doesn't sound very brotherly now, does it? Another question: how many student reps are a part of the school board, what are the expectations of them, and is there an attendance code they should be following?

  33. if you're not willing to look at cutting school sports from a budget you need to stop complaining about said budget.

  34. I agree that it can seem strange to see one or two kids on a bus, but I can just imagine the reaction if the board asked for three or four vans, because that's what it would take. It's part of what we have to think of when choosing to live in our beautiful surroundings. If you put all the kids on the same bus, some would have to ride from Starks to New Vineyard to Weld (for example) to get everyone close to home.

  35. @ Sam: No ones throwing any back doors. You might want to check your own grammar book. That should be one's.

  36. I feel bad for the fixed income folks! Taxes are going up way faster than the income. Disaster will strike soon!

  37. Been a tax payer since 1971. But all the spendaholics are driving me out of my house. Why? Because no one wants to pare down a budget. I don't get a fat EIC check in February. I don't get any help from anywhere. But the spendaholics don't care. They want what they want...end of conversation. Gimme..gimme..gimme.
    And the school distritct is the worst! And their end result, unfortunately, is nothing to brag about. When a kid doesn't know basics, there's something very wrong. Sure they can text like crazy, and know all about the latest in technology, but they won't be able to read cursive in years to come, and they don't even know how many ounces in a pound. Sad, very sad.

  38. It's way over due for some SERIOUS talk's of cost cutting, and,the way things are run in our school system, as WELL as all of our local governments.what's causing the increases,year after year after year? Who benefits from the extra money ? Does it go where it was supposed to? I think it's time to go WAY outside the box in the way things are run.follow the money and who benefits from it.time for serious restructuring in how our SMALL local communities are run.its time for real meaningful change & reforms all around.

  39. Lindy,

    He didn't misunderstand, it's the same argument every year. There are costs that the school district can not control. You want lights? The bill went up. You want heat and hot water? The bill went up. You want busses to run? The bill went up.

    It can sometimes cost a district upwards (and more) of 100,000 to send ONE student to an out of school placement. Oh, he's a special education student? Now it's State law and you have to send him, no option. How many students are out of school placement at SAD 9? I don't know, but if it's 10 there's a million.

    Yes, there are things a district could look at to cut costs, but with such a large district there isn't much that would satisfy the "overgoverned" that demand a 3% decrease.

  40. I bet the $16 million of of tax money that LePage essentially gave away to out of state "investors" would have helped reduce the budget burden. But I have a hunch that many who voted down the budget also voted for LePage. Might there be a connection between, a governor who mismanaged that $16 million deal, and squandered an addition half million of our taxes on a bogus plagiarized report, gave big tax cuts to the rich (as if trickle down works, where are the jobs?) AND... the RSD 9 budget tax burden. You reap what you sow, and it turns out your vote for Lepage has come back to haunt you. So take responsibility for your actions because believe or not, if Lepge had his way he would eliminated the income tax resulting in a huge increase in your property tax and the sales tax. Think about that if this issue comes up for referendum. It's all about connecting the dots.

  41. I wish that those who comment on the budget of RSU9 used your actual names. How many are employees of the system or family members of employees. Only nine of the forty commentators used full names and, at that, some may be not be theirs. Own up for your opinions

    Our economy in our area is essentially flat. How many people will lose their property because of this rise in taxes, which the budget, now approved, will bring on?

  42. @5thgenMe: Very few of the commenters ever "connect the dots" with how the LePage administration has gutted the funding for education, thereby resulting in the soaring local property taxes to make up for the short-fall.

  43. I'm sorry,all who blame our current administration for OUR LOCAL problems...Boohoo ,we didn't get all the money from our state government to cover our bills for our local government.... I'm sorry again,but WHO pays for all the state government money to be sent to our local government ??? It dosemt matter WHO OR WHAT PARTYit is ,they all take our money and divide how OUR PUBLIC OFFICIALS SEE FIT!
    It's time to take control and responsibility of all our LOCAL government ,school ,and community issues,isn't it folks....???we can't blame it on Augusta all the time. Yes, there are some rules and regulations we have to follow, no matter how ridiculous they are,on either side of the stupid isle! The fact of the matter is we need to get ahold of our spending & taxing. And put our dollars to common sense solutions.not "politically correct" B.S. let's stop and think a minute about who is paying all this money...? The actual people on our neighborhoods,YOUR neighbors. Are they paying ? Are you paying? Who's getting and gaining? Are "our" kids getting what were paying for? Me ,I have no kids. So I know I'm not . I see kids today ,I think ,what the heck are they learning in school today??? None of them have an ounce of work ethic.(I shouldn't say none).
    Seems most have an entitlement attitude.
    So I say again ,what r we paying all the millions of dollars for? It sure doesn't seem to be for teaching our kids about life? Our country? Our Constitution?,about AMERICA.it seems to be about how much money we can get out of Augusta, or the taxpayers for this thing or that thing ,or the other thing, the UNIONS.eewwwww I said a bad word ,lets not forget about them. Imagine the money they require to run/steal from us to give us equal pay. Why can't WE the people who run our schools have OUR KIDS in our schools ,pay our teachers a fair honest wage without the unions dictating it?? Imagine the money the teachers could put in their pockets without paying to the union. I bet we could get some kind of group insurance that would benefit all. What about insurance for a whole town ? And before u jump on me,yeah I know ,Obama care... It don't work. Let's talk to out local ins. People , Seth at shiretown,dick or rock bjorne.lets figure out REAL ways to save money and make things work. Screw the norm, common sense goes a very long way for EVERYONE.lets start talking about REAL change in our local communities.

  44. To all who seem to disagree about the RSU 9 budget and the conversations that followed: why are you arguing about irrevelent topics when the focus should be on the budget? While some of us make grammatical errors and others think they can do no wrong, as a community we need to learn how to work together, respectfully. Being from a school district that has no student representation whatsoever, I think those of RSU 9 should not complain if the student reps aren't able to attend the summer meetings due to prior commitments. In some ways we are blessed to have what we do. So as you continue bickering, please understand that you are starting to look rather unintelligent while the issue at hand still stands.

    Michael

  45. Sam, stop being a jerk. Ross Clair has is a nice guy and works hard to try to curb spending to keep our taxes down and does not deserve being picked on. Way to go Mt. Blue student and Frank.

  46. I'd feel more inclined to use my full name if I hadn't experienced some pretty scary personal comments (not necessarily on this topic) in the past.

  47. Mercedes: This may be a little late, however who do the teachers work for? The board votes on their contract, salaries and benefits. Please enlighten me. This would save the taxpayers many thousands of dollars

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