Medway to address $196,979 budget cut at 2nd town meeting

Selectmen Rob Farrington (left) and Darrell Lyons listen to the school board during a meeting at the Medway town office on Tuesday, June 17.
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Selectmen Rob Farrington (left) and Darrell Lyons listen to the school board during a meeting at the Medway town office on Tuesday, June 17. Buy Photo
Posted June 28, 2014, at 4:30 p.m.
Last modified June 29, 2014, at 1:59 p.m.

MEDWAY, Maine — Town leaders will hold a second town meeting on Monday so voters can address a $196,979 cut to the education budget that would force the school board to break contracts and state law, officials said.

The town meeting will occur at Medway Middle School at 6 p.m., following a Medway School Committee meeting that starts at 5 p.m., officials said.

The Board of Selectmen informally agreed to the school board request during a 25-minute selectmen’s meeting at the town office on June 17.

At issue was a 22-17 vote by residents at the June 11 annual town meeting that approved reducing the school administrative account from $197,979 to $1,000.

The cut would eliminate the salaries of Superintendent of Schools Quenten Clark and his administrative staff effective July 1, the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year, officials have said.

Some residents who voted for the $196,979 cut called it their reaction against what they called the school system’s high reserve account. Retired Schenck High School Principal John Farrington, who was one of the residents who objected to the reserve account, said he planned to attend the meeting.

“They needed to do it again,” Farrington said Sunday. “The selectmen made the right decision in agreeing to another meeting.”

Some of the residents who voted for the cut said they want to see some of that money used to lower the 26.5 mill rate, likely to be set this fall in response to the passage of the $3.03 million school and $1.25 million town government budgets. They also objected to the school system hiring a bookkeeper with those funds.

School officials issued pre-termination notices to the Medway Middle School staff June 12 in response to the cut before a Portland attorney told them later that day the cut would violate state laws requiring superintendents at school systems.

It would also violate Medway schools’ contracts to share administrative services with East Millinocket and Woodville, he said.

Under state law, superintendents have a host of obligations, including attending school board meetings, Clark has said.

Farrington said he didn’t know whether he would push again for a similar cut.

“I am still looking some stuff,” he said.

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