As students and teachers head back to class in Scarborough this week, the school year starts without a budget.
Voters will head to the polls for the third time next Tuesday, and from songs performed by students to roadside signs, the Scarborough School Department is trying to get voters to support a $47 million school budget.
Superintendent Julie Kukenberger is also sending out robocalls to parents.
“Did you know that we’re starting the school year without a budget?” she said in the recording given to CBS 13 by a Scarborough parent.
Twice this summer, voters rejected the school’s spending plan.
This third proposal trims $50,000 from the previous proposal.
While it increases school spending by less than 3 percent over last year, the town is on the hook for about 6.7 percent after a loss in state funding.
“It is our hope that this referendum will pass, but we need your help to make it happen,” Kukenberger said in the recording.
Kukenberger told CBS 13 she’s committed to using as many communication tools as possible to get important information to parents.
“We have a student information system called Power School. One of the features of that is Power Announcer and so it’s a resource we already pay for whether we use it one time or 10 times,” she said.
The group Concerned Taxpayers of Scarborough is questioning whether the calls go too far.
“When the school used proprietary information they’re not willing to share, and they use information provided by parents for a single purpose — emergency notification — there’s certainly an ethical question with that,” said Scarborough resident Annalee Ziman Rosenblatt.
The group says there’s no question they’d like to see a smaller school budget.
“Spending and growing programs have to stop in proportion to the growth of the population of the school,” Rosenblatt said.
Kukenberger said the budget is already about as tight as she can get it due to contract obligations.
“Some people are choosing to think the overall increase is because we are excessively spending. That’s not the case,” she said.
CBS 13 checked with several town and state officials today and they all told us the calls don’t violate any rules that they know of.
Early voting is now over in Scarborough, but voters will get to weigh in again on Tuesday, September 5.
The property tax increase for homeowners is estimated to be about 2.9 percent.