No discussion or debate, SAD 61 budget passes first hurdle

In 22 minutes, over $29 million was approved to cover educational costs in SAD 61 next year.

Unlike the spirited and vocal debate that rocked the school system over how to address overcrowding at Songo Locks School by repurposing and renovating the Crooked River facility, barely a peep could be heard Tuesday night regarding the proposed budget.

Just 42 residents voted on the 21-article warrant. Although the meeting started 15 minutes late due to a delay in the Sebago clerk’s arrival, moderator John Robinson zipped through the articles as the public offered no discussion or questions.

The warrant included two written ballots — Article 15, raising $4,780,812 additional local funds that exceed the state’s Essential Programs and Services funding model by $4,409,349; and Article 16, raising $50,000 locally to keep district facilities open for community and other programs on Saturdays and school vacations.

Article 15 money covers $457,653 for teacher retirement, which was previously paid for by the state; co-curricular and extracurricular activities; additional district-wide staffing; substitute pay; operations/maintenance of seven district facilities; transportation; special education; and technology.

Article 15 passed 40-1, while Article 16 was unanimous, 42-0. It took just three minutes for the ballots to be cast, counted by clerks, and results passed along to Robinson for announcement.

Voters also approved $100,000 for the food service program; $250,000 for capital reserve; and raised $342,585 as the local share for adult education.

Next, the budget goes to a validation referendum in all four towns on Tuesday, May 31. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters will also be asked whether SAD 61 should continue the present budget validation process for an additional three years? A “yes” vote would keep the validation referendum; a “no” vote would return SAD 61 to a district budget meeting vote format.

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