RSU 67 to make fourth try at passing budget on Election Day

Posted Sept. 24, 2012, at 7:13 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — RSU 67 leaders will make their fourth attempt to pass a budget at the same time new members will be joining the school district’s board of directors, officials said Monday.

Incumbent David Edwards and challengers Katie Clay, Garland Hurd, Gilberte Mayo, Dolores K. “Dottie” Phillips, Mary Plourde and Jeffrey Shick will compete for three open three-year terms on Nov. 6, Town Clerk Shelly Crosby said.

“Lincoln residents will have quite a few ballots in front of them in November,” Crosby said Monday.

The candidates’ deadline for submitting paperwork to get on the ballot lapsed on Friday, Crosby said. The names of candidates who will be on the ballots for Chester and Mattawamkeag were not available on Monday.

Write-in candidates can still be elected, Crosby said.

RSU 67 represents the towns of Chester, Lincoln and Mattawamkeag.

Residents of Chester and Lincoln rejected the proposed $12.18 million budget on Sept. 18 with votes of 26-15 and 219-175, respectively. Mattawamkeag residents approved the budget with a 29-20 vote, officials said.

RSU 67 Superintendent Denise Hamlin expressed mystification at the budget’s latest failure to pass.

“We’d love to have a series of questions answered,” Hamlin said Monday.

The board’s finance committee was due to meet on Monday night to discuss the board’s next steps. The full board of directors will meet on Oct. 10 to discuss a tentative plan to buy the former Dr. Carl Troutt School in Mattawamkeag from that town for $1 to house students who will be enrolled in the Carlton Project, Hamlin said.

Based in Houlton, the alternative education program will educate students who have had difficulty in traditional settings, though it is not, Hamlin said, a special education program.

RSU 67 sold the Troutt School to Mattawamkeag for $1 in June 2009. Troutt was one of the oldest, least-populated and most expensive school buildings to maintain in RSU 67. The facility had 49 students during the 2008-2009 school year, while the Ella P. Burr School of Lincoln, the district’s other elementary school, served 392, school officials have said.

The school board voted 7-1 to close the Troutt School for the 2009-10 year. The board cited an expected state funding shortfall and increasing costs associated with the school’s maintenance. The school’s closing helped RSU 67 lower taxes slightly the following year.

Mattawamkeag residents also approved the closure.

Mayo, one of the candidates for election to RSU 67, said the budgets have failed to pass because they lack transparency. The town’s administrative assistant and treasurer, Mayo said that voters have told her they feel the budget has “hidden” costs.

She said she hopes she will be elected to help the district produce budgets that are more transparent.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 at Mattanawcook Academy to discuss the budget again, Crosby said.

The board has cut the budget from $12.43 million to $12.26 million and then to the present $12.18 million in anticipation of meeting voters’ requirements.

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