Rockland area school board cuts $110,000 to gain voter support

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted June 20, 2013, at 8:51 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Regional School Unit 13 Board voted Thursday night to cut an additional $110,000 from the proposed 2013-2014 budget in hopes that it will gain voter support this summer.

Voters in the district rejected a proposed $27 million budget 320-332 at the polls on June 11.

The revised budget comes in at $26,883,562, about 1 percent more than the 2012-2013 budget.

The reduced spending package is expected to go before residents on Wednesday, July 24, at a districtwide budget meeting, the first of two steps necessary for the budget to take effect. A referendum will go before voters at the polls in Rockland, Thomaston, St. George, Cushing, Owls Head and South Thomaston sometime in August. No date for that referendum has been set.

The revisions made Thursday night include cutting the development director position that supporters maintained would generate grants from nongovernment sources.

Board Chair Esther “Tess” Kilgour said, however, that she had spoken with Rockland Mayor William Clayton and he has offered to have the city’s development director assist the district in seeking grants.

In addition to cutting $110,000, the board also agreed to take an additional $100,000 from surplus to reduce the amount of property taxes to be raised.

Board member Carol Bachofner of Rockland voted against the revisions and said she voted against the budget at the polls on June 11. She said the board was divesting, not investing in students.

Bachofner said she wanted the board to restore the proposed elimination of arts and social studies teacher at the high school and an experiential learning teacher position in St. George.

Her proposal to add to the budget was rejected 6-4 by the board with one abstention.

The reduced budget was approved 8-3. Bachofner, George Emery and Sherman Hoyt of St. George voted against the cuts.

Board member Sally Carleton of Owls Head said she had been in education her entire life and said she would not have supported the revised budget if she thought it was hurting students.

During the public session of the Thursday night meeting, several people urged the board to restore cuts in teaching positions.

Rockland resident Steve Carroll of Rockland said, however, the budget rejected at the polls was more than taxpayers could handle. He urged more cuts.

“It seems to me that the overwhelming reason the budget was defeated was that taxpayers are up against it hard,” Carroll said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/20/news/midcoast/rockland-area-school-board-cuts-110000-to-gain-voter-support/ printed on July 22, 2014