May 22, 2018
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Orono residents push RSU 26 budget to approval despite ‘no’ votes in Veazie, Glenburn

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — Voters in Orono overwhelmingly favored the RSU 26 budget in Tuesday’s elections, trumping the “no” votes that were the majority in Veazie and Glenburn, the two other towns in the district.

The total among the three towns was 1,135 to 836 in favor of the school budget.

Orono residents backed the budget 740-352. Glenburn residents voted 231-188 to reject the budget and Veazie’s results were 253-207 against the budget. Both Veazie and Glenburn are drafting plans to withdraw from the district.

During a May 29 school district budget meeting attended by about 60 people from the three towns, residents voted to add $265,000 to the board-recommended budget, bringing the total budget to roughly $21.8 million — an increase of about $480,000 over last year’s budget.

Brian McGill of Orono suggested the addition to the budget as a way of giving the board extra money to work with in an attempt to reinstate the Glenburn assistant principal’s position to the budget and add back several other positions throughout the district that have been cut or reduced during the budgeting process.

Glenburn residents argued that not having an assistant principal in a school with more than 400 K-8 students presented a significant safety risk.

After much wrangling and discussion during that three-hour meeting, residents approved the move in ballot voting.

Some town officials and residents were critical of the budget move, arguing that while adding money to the budget might bring back positions at the district’s schools, it will mean tax increases in each community.

Glenburn Town Councilor Michael O’Connor said during the May 29 meeting that the town already has passed a bare-bones budget and any increase in local allocations would need to be covered almost entirely by a tax hike.

Veazie Town Manager Joseph Hayes has echoed those concerns.

In coming weeks, the school board will determine how to allocate the additional $265,000.

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