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Revised Hampden area school budget up for 2nd referendum

Rick Lyons HAMPDEN, ME -- OCTOBER 7, 2010 -- Hampden school superintendent Rick Lyons. LINDA COAN O'KRESIK
By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

Voters from the RSU 22 member towns of Hampden, Winterport, Newburgh and Frankfort will be heading out to the polls in their respective towns Tuesday for a second try at adopting a budget for the current school year.

Residents of three of the school district’s four member towns rejected school officials’ original budget proposal in a vote of 710 opposed and 637 in favor during their respective budget validation referendums in June.

After hearing from residents who either want to see more money put into instruction or a lighter local share, the school board developed a new budget that aims to do some of both, Superintendent Rick Lyons said earlier.

That budget was approved as is during a district budget meeting at Hampden Academy last week, Lyons said Monday. Tuesday’s districtwide referendum is the final step in the approval process.

The new $30,972,944 budget proposal reflects a 2.96 percent increase from last year, as opposed to the 2.8 percent increase it called for in the initial version, Lyson said earlier.

That is because RSU 22 received $450,658 more in state subsidy than it anticipated when the school officials adopted the earlier version of the budget, he said.

To that end, the school board proposes using 60 percent of that money to ease the burden on taxpayers in Hampden, Winterport, Newburgh and Frankfort, who would have had to shell out a combined $11,241,060 — almost 4.4 percent more than last year — had the original budget passed.

Instead, they are being asked to contribute $10,936,937, or 1.57 percent more than last year, Lyons said.

The remaining 40 percent of the additional state aid would be applied to instruction.

While many voters who attended the first district budget meeting spoke in favor of restoring a part-time art position and a full-time English language arts position at Hampden Academy, school officials said the projected enrollment for the coming school year did not justify that.

School officials instead decided to move the art position to the kindergarten and grade one levels, which haven’t had art instruction in at least a decade, Lyons said.

The polls will be open Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hampden Municipal Building, Newburgh Elementary School, Samuel L. Wagner Middle School in Winterport and Frankfort Elementary School.


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