Pittsfield-area residents to vote on school budget

Posted June 10, 2011, at 7:56 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Education officials are hoping for a good turnout Tuesday when area residents will be asked to approve the SAD 53 budget for the 2011-12 school year.

Tuesday’s districtwide referendum is one of the final steps in the approval of the budget, which then would have to be ratified by the SAD 53 board of directors. District Superintendent Michael Gallagher said the budget was approved unanimously, line by line, by about 40 residents who attended a district budget meeting on May 26.

Despite that success, Gallagher said voters in next week’s referendum won’t have the benefit of having things explained to them. Instead, they’ll answer one question: “Do you favor approving the Maine School Administrative District No. 53 budget for the upcoming school year that was adopted at the latest district budget meeting?”

The proposed budget of $9,873,261 maintains current programs but relies on some administrative changes to come in about $29,000 lower than the current year’s budget. Gallagher said an assistant principal position that serves pre-kindergarten through grade eight will not be filled when it likely becomes vacant later this year. Those responsibilities will be picked up by teachers who receive stipends for their work.

However, in order to attract the maximum amount of state funding, the portion of the budget to be raised from local property taxes is proposed to increase by about $341,000. The state’s formula for providing aid to schools requires a minimum local contribution. Though the amount to be raised locally has increased by $696,000 in the past four years, the district’s overall budget has dropped by $900,000 since the 2007-08 school year.

On Tuesday, the polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Burnham Town Hall; from 1 to 7 p.m. at Detroit Town Hall; and from noon until 8 p.m. at the Pittsfield Municipal Building.

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