Brunswick voters approve $38M school budget by wide margin

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BRUNSWICK — Residents approved the $38 million school budget Tuesday by a margin of almost 3-1.

The vote in favor of the budget was 3,760 to 1,379.

On an accompanying advisory question, 2,289 voters found the spending plan “acceptable,” followed by 1,641 who said it was “too high” and 978 who found it “too low.”

The budget is almost $254,000, or about 0.66 percent, more than current spending.

The budget passed by voters and approved by the Town Council on May 14 is also $520,000 less than the $38.6 million spending plan recommended May 9 by the School Board. It includes funding for regular instruction, special education, student and staff support, debt service, and other commitments.

The total budget for fiscal year 2019 will require a 2.99 percent tax hike, making the tax rate $18.92 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or an additional 55 cents over this year.

The advisory question, intended to inform officials in case voters had rejected the spending plan, was a new addition to the ballot this year.

On Tuesday, Rebecca Dudley was among the majority of voters who indicated $38.1 million was “acceptable.” But she said that as a parent with children in school, she would still have been OK with it being higher.

Her husband Brandon Dudley, an educator in a different school district, said he was also “OK” with the budget number, but indicated it was “too low” while voting.

Like him, Michelle Vasquez Jacobus also said she indicated the school budget was “too low,” because she is the mother of three children and “always” thinks spending for public school education is not high enough.

She added she thinks it’s important for people to take every opportunity to vote, and that this election was particularly important to her because of the introduction of ranked-choice voting.

Election clerk David Knight described the voting climate Tuesday as “constant” and “busy,” and said with fewer than three hours before the polls closed, people who had been working elections for “many moons” were calling it a “good turnout.” 

More than one voter mentioned national issues as reasons they came out to vote in the primaries, including Chris Brewer, who said health care and gun control are key issues for him.

Brewer was also among those who approved the school spending, though he said he didn’t have any specific feelings on the figure.

“I’m a supporter of whatever the schools need,” he said. 

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente

Things were busy Tuesday at Brunswick Junior High School, where poll workers said there was a steady stream of voters.