Calais voters reject proposed school budget

By Tim Cox, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 27, 2013, at 1:40 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — Calais residents voted to reject the city’s proposed $8.3 million school budget on Tuesday.

One hundred and seventy-one voters cast ballots opposing the referendum on the proposed school budget, and 118 voters endorsed it. The city has about 2,100 registered voters.

Balloting was conducted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the city’s municipal building.

The vote was closer than a referendum in July, when voters rejected a proposed school budget by a vote of 238-55. The $8.3 million school budget that was the subject of Tuesday’s referendum, a figure approved by the City Council by a 4-3 vote earlier this month, contains roughly an additional $50,000. The proposed school budget includes $1.4 million in local funds.

The City Council has approved interim funding on a monthly basis based on the proposed school budget that voters rejected.

The School Committee set a special meeting 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss, among other things, the results of the referendum. The panel probably will begin considering spending cuts at the special meeting, committee member Kathleen Kaso said Tuesday evening.

The School Committee, which had proposed a budget of $8.8 million, has begun considering spending cuts exceeding $400,000 recommended by interim Superintendent Raymond Freve. In order to trim spending to the proposed budget amount approved by the City Council, Freve recommended eliminating a handful of positions, imposing four furlough days and dropping some extracurricular activities, including boys and girls basketball for grades seven and eight, yearbook, drama, vocal instruction and class advisors. The positions he recommended for cuts include a middle school teacher, high school assistant principal, high school librarian and music and art teaching positions.

The proposed school budget approved by the City Council increased the local share of school funding by $251,000 compared to the previous school year. In addition, the City Council increased the mill rate with 85 percent of the additional revenue going for schools.

The City Council voted in July to increase the mill rate by $2 per $1,000 property tax valuation — from $23.30 to $25.30 — in order to generate more revenue for its junior-senior high school and elementary school. The increase will produce about $300,000 in new revenue.

Calais previously was a member of an Alternative Organizational Structure, or AOS, for school services, but it withdrew from the regional entity effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/08/27/news/down-east/calais-voters-decide-school-budget-referendum/ printed on August 21, 2014