VINALHAVEN, Maine — Island residents have yet to pass a school budget for this year. On Nov. 8, Vinalhaven voters will try for a third time.
Locals who attended a recent meeting approved the proposed $3.5 million budget, but that has happened twice before. And twice before, the proposed budget failed when it was put to a districtwide vote to be ratified.
The school budget process works like this: A superintendent establishes a budget proposal, the school board votes on it, and then the school district has a meeting where those in attendance vote on it. If the proposed budget is approved through those steps, it must go through final approval at the ballot box in each member town in the school district.
Vinalhaven has twice gotten through the process up to the ballot part and then failed. Because there are no exit polls and no written comment on the ballots, it’s difficult to tell why voters keep rejecting the single-community school district’s budget during townwide votes.
State law allows school districts in such situations to operate on the budget last passed at the school district meeting until they can get approval at the ballot box.
The Vinalhaven School District’s budget last year was $3,415,707. The current proposed budget is $3,527,620. The district has made cuts, according to the superintendent, but because of rising oil costs and federally mandated special education costs, the overall budget still has risen.
If the budget proposal fails a third time, the school district will be forced to try again until it eventually passes a budget by ballot vote.