July 17, 2018
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Fort Kent-area voters turn down school budget for second time

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff

FORT KENT, Maine — Voters in SAD 27 turned down by referendum a proposed 2015-16 school budget for the second time in as many months, according to results emailed to the Bangor Daily News by the district Thursday evening.

With a final vote of 377-319, residents sent the proposed $11.1 million budget back to the school board for a third attempt to come up with numbers voters will approve.

SAD 27 is made up of Fort Kent, Wallagrass, Eagle Lake, St. Francis, New Canada and St. John Plt.

The budget passed last week at the district meeting and represented more than $700,000 in cuts from the budget voters turned down last month.

Last week, district officials reversed a budget reduction decision to transfer third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders from Wallagrass and Eagle Lake elementary schools to Fort Kent in the hopes of making the new budget more attractive to voters.

The proposed budget on Thursday’s ballot would have left the property tax rate unchanged, according to Tim Doak, district superintendent, who said Thursday night that he was “disappointed” with the vote.

“We need to get school started and then see what the board wants to do,” Doak said. “Seeing the budget voted down is disappointing, as a superintendent, it always is.”

Doak will leave SAD 27 at the end of August to take over as superintendent in RSU 39. He announced his resignation to the school board before last week’s budget meeting.

Classes start Aug. 18 in SAD 27, and until a budget is approved, the schools will operate month to month on the $11.1 million approved at the district meeting last week, Doak said.

SAD 27 voters last month turned down a $12.8 million budget that would have raised local property taxes up to 20 percent.

Doak and Lucie Tabor, SAD 27 director of finances, will meet with the school board early Friday morning to begin looking at the process for a third budget proposal.

“We will meet with the board tomorrow morning, regroup and start the budget process over again,” Tabor said by email Thursday night. “But our immediate focus will be Aug. 18 and doing what we do best — educate kids.”

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