School Administrative District 75 voters support $33.4M budget

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TOPSHAM — A $33.4 million spending plan for School Administrative District 75 received final approval Tuesday at the polls.

The fiscal 2013 budget passed, 1,981 to 733, and carried all four towns in the SAD. Topsham voted 909-307; Harpswell, 615-279; Bowdoin, 184-67, and Bowdoinham 273-80.

The budget – which is down $817,000, or 2.4 percent, from this year, and eliminates almost 25 jobs – received initial support at a district budget meeting May 24.

“I think it was a budget process where we had some very difficult choices to make,” Superintendent Brad Smith said Wednesday. “Choices that had implications for the program we offer (and) the people that we were not able to continue to employ.”

He added that “we did hear from some members of the community who expressed a desire to increase the budget amount; at the same time we heard from people who did not want to see the district budget and their taxes be increased. So ultimately, for the first time in four years, we have asked for an increase to the local contributions of the four towns, and I’m very pleased that the voters were willing to support that increase.”

The budget includes the reduction of 11.9 full-time equivalent positions: classroom and special education teachers, a librarian, nurse and speech and language therapist. It also includes the reduction of 12 support staff positions – including education technicians, secretaries, bus drivers and custodians – and an administrative position.

The decline in next year’s budget is due largely to losses in state and federal aid, as well as money no longer available from the federal Education Jobs Fund program.

The amount to be assessed through taxes is $18.8 million, an increase of about $98,000, or 0.5 percent.

Topsham’s assessment would decline 3.6 percent to $7.5 million, due to a drop in its state valuation. Other towns should see increased assessments: Harpswell, 2.31 percent to $6.6 million; Bowdoin, nearly 6 percent to $2.2 million, and Bowdoinham, 4.45 percent to $2.4 million.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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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.