Voters in Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham approve $36M SAD 75 budget

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TOPSHAM — A $36.25 million School Administrative 75 budget for fiscal 2010 passed its final hurdle Tuesday, winning approval from voters in the district’s four towns 854-376.

“We’re very pleased that all our hard work over the last several months has come to fruition,” SAD 75 Business Manager Peter Gray said Tuesday night. He added that “we were cautiously optimistic” the budget would pass.

This budget reflects a 0.79 increase over current spending. Taxes to be paid by citizens of Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham total nearly $19 million, a decrease of 1.14 percent.

In Topsham the budget question passed 219-79. The 298 residents who turned up at the polls represent about 4 percent of the total registered voters.

Harpswell saw the budget prevail by 201-114. The 315 voters represented roughly 7 percent of the town’s voting population.

In Bowdoin the question passed by 75-20, while in Bowdoinham it passed by 359-163.

Included in the budget is the first of a four-year state-based payment plan for laptop computers for all Mt. Ararat High School students. The machines cost $215,000 for next year, with some money coming from special education stimulus funds for laptops used by special education students, as well as money from the district’s technology budget. The other $93,000, also from federal stimulus money, comes out of a $3.3 million budget line for staff and student support.

The laptops, which the district will receive at a reduced price, come with $250,000 of educational software. At no added cost, SAD 75 also has the ability to replace or repair each laptop, along with free battery replacements for four years, staff development and technical support for teachers and a pool of laptops to give students as replacements if the computers become disabled. The district will also receive the infrastructure necessary to make Internet connectivity available where required throughout the school.

Staffing reductions to reduce the spending increase include a half-time school secretary position; math, English and Spanish teachers at Mt. Ararat High School and a half-time high school art teacher.

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.