SAD 75 voters breeze through initial budget approval

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TOPSHAM — It took only half an hour to complete the first phase of approval for the fiscal 2011 School Administrative District 75 budget.

With little comment, voters approved the nearly $34.8 million spending plan on May 27 in the first of two of two budget votes. A budget validation referendum will be held Tuesday, June 8.

“It seems like, to me … a vote of confidence for the work of the board in putting a budget together that was reasonable,” SAD 75 Superintendent Mike Wilhelm said after the meeting. “We’ve had more people at the public hearings this year than we have in many, many years. So a lot of the questions were answered, and I think that helped.”

Next year’s budget is $1.47 million smaller than the current spending plan. Revenues have decreased $1.72 million, including a state subsidy reduction of $1.46 million.

A $219,000 payment from Harpswell to keep the West Harpswell School open, along with $35,000 in fund balance transfers, narrowed the net revenue loss to $1.47 million.

Next year’s local assessment from SAD 75’s four towns is $18.72 million, a drop of nearly $233,000, or 1.23 percent.

Only Harpswell will see its share decline – to $6.83 million, a reduction of 8.85 percent.

Topsham’s contribution would rise 4.82 percent to $7.57 million. Bowdoin would see an increase of 1.14 percent to total $2.05 million, and Bowdoinham has an increase of 2.66 percent to $2.28 million.

Positions to be cut include a bus driver and transportation aide; four custodians and a maintenance job; 1.3 principal positions; five elementary and 2.75 middle school teacher positions; six elementary KinderStart educational technicians; two social workers and one occupational therapist position; one high school guidance job and 6.5 special education teacher jobs.

New positions include six kindergarten teachers, an elementary technology integrator, 5.5 Response to Intervention learning strategists and an autism consulting teacher.

Polls will be open June 8 at the Topsham Fair Grounds Exhibition Hall, at Bowdoin Central School and Bowdoinham Town Hall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and in the Merroconeag Grange Hall on the Harpswell mainland, the Cundy’s Harbor Community Building on Great Island and the Old Orr’s Island School House from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.