Greene, Leeds, Turner residents vote down $30.3 million school budget

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May 20—Residents in Maine Administrative School District 52 voted down school officials' proposed $30.3 million school budget Thursday, 146-93.

None of the three towns passed the budget. Of the 239 total voters, 63% were against the proposal.

In Turner, 96 votes were cast: 54 were in opposition and 42 in favor.

The spending plan was particularly unpopular among Greene residents. Of 81 voters, 58 disapproved of the proposal and 23 favored it.

The result in Leeds was tighter, with 34 voting against the budget and 28 in support, for a total of 62.

As a result, the spending plan will likely be sent back to the board of directors for reconsideration. The board will put their modified proposal before voters in a future referendum.

Commenters on social media largely expressed disapproval of the proposed budget, with one Turner resident calling it a "ridiculous amount of money." Another person in Greene wrote, "Big NO from me tomorrow!! They are literally trying to tax us to death!"

Those expressing support of the spending plan said they viewed it as a needed investment in education.

Residents of Leeds would have seen a 4.5% increase in their assessment under the proposed budget, Greene a 3.18% increase and Turner a 1.92% increase.

The assessment for each town is determined by its percentage of the total state valuation of the three towns combined. Turner, which has the highest town valuation, is responsible for collecting the largest portion of local funding of the three towns.

The proposed budget is a 7% increase from this fiscal year's spending plan of $28.3 million, which officials primarily attributed to rising operation and salary costs. New staff positions also increased the bottom line.

The district proposed adding 11 full-time positions while eliminating three. Added positions included three instructional coaches, a districtwide school psychologist, and a second gifted and talented teacher.

On May 5, less than two dozen residents passed each of the 18 budget articles without amendments. A secret ballot vote to approve $5.2 million more in local funds than recommended by the state funding model passed 13-4. School officials said this increase was necessary to fund programs not fully covered by the state, including advanced placement courses, cocurricular and extracurricular activities, and special education.