HOLDEN, Maine — Residents cut high school technology funds from the SAD 63 budget for fiscal year 2009-10, but left everything else in the nearly $9.4 million spending package alone during Thursday’s annual budget hearing.
Residents approved a $9,388,372 budget, which is $139,411 more than this year.
In the end, all budget lines were approved unchanged except for regular instruction, which was reduced by $86,548, the amount the district planned to send to Brewer High School to purchase laptops for SAD 63 students.
Brewer school board members decided two weeks ago they could not afford to take part in the laptop initiative and informed SAD 63 business manager Yvonne Mitchell.
“I received an e-mail from [Brewer Superintendent] Dan Lee stating they were not going to request those funds,” she said to the gathering of 80 or so residents from Clifton, Eddington and Holden.
There was lengthy discussion during Thursday’s two-hour meeting about cutting the raises for principals and teachers, ongoing legal battles, updating technology at the schools, and the maintenance budget, but none of the budget lines was changed.
“There are many of us who are not receiving any income or losing their jobs and … there are times when we have to say ‘What can we do to hold the line?’” Eddington resident Susan Dunham Shane said.
Others stood up and argued that to keep the high-quality staff, the schools have to provide incentives such as raises.
The possible repeal of the state’s penalty against SAD 63 for not consolidating is good news, interim Superintendent Ray Hart said. If the repeal is successful in Augusta, SAD 63 will get to keep $163,000 and the amount the towns will have to pay will be reduced, he said.
The towns are expected to pitch in $4,191,710 for education, an increase of $269,154, or 7.48 percent more.
The amount each community will pay is set by the state based on property values.
Eddington residents will see the biggest increase with the school board asking for $1,285,614, an increase of $145,293 or 12.74 percent more for education; Clifton will hand over $594,002, an increase of $52,451 or 9.69 percent; and Holden will pay $2,312,097, a $71,413 increase or just over 3 percent more.
Hart also explained why no additional funds were added to cover legal fees associated with the lawsuits brought against the district and several board members by former Superintendent Louise Regan.
“We originally put $100,000 into that legal line,” he said. Then the philosophy changed, and it was decided “that if we win the suit, we don’t have to worry about it,” and if the district loses “this board will have to go back to the citizens to take out a note over the long term to pay that off.”
For the budget to be final, residents also must approve it at the budget referendum, scheduled for Tuesday.
Ballot booths will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Eddington and Clifton, and between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. in Holden for the vote.