BREWER, Maine — Residents will cast ballots today on whether to approve the school budget — a requirement of the school consolidation law — and whether to continue the school budget validation process for another three years, said Superintendent Daniel Lee.
The proposed fiscal year 2010-11 school budget, minus construction funds that flow through the department, is nearly $16.73 million and represents a 1.3 percent decrease, the school superintendent said Monday. With the construction funds, the budget is nearly $19.5 million.
The school budget already has been approved by both the school board and the City Council, Lee said, adding the state-mandated validation costs the city money. Under the school consolidation law, residents statewide have been required to annually validate school budgets. This is the first year where residents can opt to stop the process, Lee said.
“It costs somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000 a year for the city to offer this,” he said. “Beyond that, it is the last tentacle of the ill-conceived school consolidation law.”
The school board has been working on the school budget for months, and after approving a draft presented it to the City Council in May during a budget hearing. No one from the public stepped forward to express any concerns during that meeting. Councilors approved the school and municipal budgets on June 1.
“A fair amount of scrutiny by public officials already has taken place,” Lee said of the budget.
The question facing residents about the school budget also has a minor error, he said. The referendum question reads, “Do you favor approving the City of Brewer school budget for the upcoming school year that was adopted at the City Council meeting held June 1, 2010 and that includes locally raised funds that exceed the re-quired local contribution as described in the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act?”
“Brewer does not exceed EPS,” Lee said.
Brewer residents can cast ballots at the Brewer Auditorium, which is open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. today for voting.