Houlton-area voters approve school budget

Posted June 29, 2011, at 5:28 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Voters in four towns have approved a $12 million budget for SAD 29 for the 2011-2012 school year.

Residents in the communities went to the polls on Tuesday to decide the fate of the budget, which was modified during a public hearing earlier in the month. Final voter numbers still were coming in early Wednesday but the votes were set to be adopted at a special board meeting Wednesday evening.

SAD 29, which serves the towns of Houlton, Hammond, Littleton and Monticello, educates about 1,300 students in four schools.

The district will receive $8.4 million from the state during this budget cycle, which is $139,701 more than the previous year.

Using a formula based in part on each community’s state valuation and in part on student population, the state determined that SAD 29 member towns would have to raise about $2.8 million locally to get the full $8.4 million state subsidy.

During a budget hearing earlier this month, voters agreed to take advantage of a state law that allows school districts to raise as little as 82.2 percent of the required local share and still receive the full state subsidy. That decision reduced the local tax burden on the four member towns by nearly $250,000 to $2,558,209.

The overall education budget is up nearly 2 percent over last year despite the fact that a number of positions in the district are being cut. Those positions include a part-time junior high music teacher, a long-term-permanent substitute teacher in the industrial arts program, a library ed tech and a certified occupational therapist aide. Cuts in staffing chopped close to $300,000 off the budget.

The tiny town of Hammond, which sends the fewest number of students to SAD 29 schools, will see an 18 percent increase in its local cost, or about $7,000 more than last year. Houlton will see a 15 percent increase or about $285,000 more than last year.

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