Scarborough voters again reject school budget, now 'too low'

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SCARBOROUGH — Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected the proposed $43.3 million school budget, 3,584 to 496. 

It was the second time in a month that a proposed School Department spending plan for fiscal 2016 was defeated. In an advisory question, 2,047 voters said the proposed budget was too low, 1,838 said it was too high, and 177 said it was acceptable. 

Voter turnout on Tuesday was 26 percent. 

Ratification of the school budget has taken more than one attempt three of the last four years; approval took two attempts last year, three in 2013 and two in 2012. 

The revised budget included a reduction of $500,000 from the originally proposed $43.8 million. That difference, according to School Board member Chris Caiazzo, would have meant the elimination of many essential programs, including after-school clubs, sports and programs

In an email Tuesday following the failure of the second referendum, resident Stacey Neumann, speaking on behalf of the Supporters of Scarborough Schools, said group members feel the vote “indicates a re-commitment of our community to support and fund high-quality schools for our children.”

Steve Hanly, a resident who runs the blog and has opposed the School Board’s spending plan, urged voters to reject the “bizarro” budget in a post on Monday.

Unlike Neumann, however, Hanly still thinks the proposed figure is too high. 

“Let’s hope that Referendum #3 can be something that all sides can agree on to the same extent we disagree on this one,” Hanly wrote on Monday. 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.  

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.