Chester, Lincoln and Mattawamkeag voters approved a $12.2 million 2010-11 budget for their public schools and want to continue holding budget validation meetings, officials said Wednesday.
Residents approved the RSU 67 budget by a 762-347 vote and opted to continue the validation meetings for another three years by a 786-365 vote, final totals released Wednesday show.
Election officials in the three towns reported unusually heavy voter turnouts during primary day.
“It’s been pretty steady all day,” Lincoln Town Clerk Diana Hill said Tuesday.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, more than 700 Lincoln residents had voted at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Hill said, and more than 100 absentee ballots were filed. The required hand counting of ballots forced Hill and other election officials to work until midnight, she said.
In Chester, about 130 voters, or a quarter of the town’s population, had voted by 7 p.m., Chester Town Clerk Molly Snowdale said.
Under the budget, RSU 67 will spend $87,665, or 0.71 percent less than the present $12.28 million budget, starting July 1 despite state funding cuts of $333,782, school officials have said.
The biggest savings, $500,000 to $600,000, came from closing Mattawamkeag’s Dr. Carl Troutt School and transferring pupils and staff to Ella P. Burr School in Lincoln.
Under the approved budget, Chester will pay $553,389, or $27,759 less than this year; Lincoln, $3.70 million, or $10,460 less; and Mattawamkeag, $4.65 million, or $6,362 more. Superintendent Michael Marcinkus has blamed state cost-sharing formulas and Mattawamkeag’s recent valuation for the increase.
The impact of the decreased school budget on the mill rates in the three towns remains unclear.
For the budget, Chester voted 70-39 in favor; Lincoln, 592-248; and Mattawankeag, 100-60.
On whether to continue the budget validation referendum process, Chester voted 73-46; Lincoln, 612-260; and Mattawamkeag, 101-59.
Marcinkus had proposed, and the school board agreed, that the validation process was costly, time-consuming and had too little participation from voters in the three towns to be worth continuing. The vote rejects that decision.