The Five Town Community School District’s school board has endorsed spending $11.3 million to operate Camden Hills Regional High School for the 2011-2012 year, and will now present its budget to voters for their final say.

Voters in Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport will consider the Five Town CSD 2011-2012 budget at a special town validation meeting at 8 p.m. on May 31 at the high school in Rockport. It will be preceded by a similar meeting for School Administrative District 28’s budget (Camden and Rockport K-8 schools) at 6 p.m.

The two-step public approval process for school budgets requires first that special meetings — different from the annual municipal town meetings — be held in a venue in which residents of the particular school districts can vote yes or no on a list of specific warrant items relating to school education expenditures. Those line items can be changed at the special town meetings.

The resolved warrant will be placed before voters at the polls at annual town meeting in June in what’s termed the budget validation referendum. If voters do not approve the school budget as presented, then the district must hold another special town meeting to again secure a budget. If voters fail to approve a budget, then the district will operate under the preceding year’s budget.

On April 6, the CSD approved a $11,257,561 budget, reflecting an increase of 1.34 percent, or $148,442, over the current budget of $11,109,119.

While Camden and Hope might see their bills for funding the high school decrease, the three other towns — Appleton, Lincolnville and Rockport — will pay more for high school education, thanks to rising property valuations.

The board voted 9-2 to endorse the proposed budget, with members Gretchen Richards of Rockport and James McKenna of Appleton casting opposing votes.

Richards said after the meeting that her vote was based on a few reasons: She supported reducing the industrial technology teaching position to half time based on declining enrollment in those classes. She also said some of the industrial technology classes offered are advanced in scope and are duplicated by similar classes at Mid-Coast School of Technology.

Richards also disagreed with the elimination of an educational technician position in the school’s Learning Center, and wants the administration to consider deeper administrative cuts, as opposed to instructional cuts, “which directly affect our students,” she said.

McKenna said after the meeting that he opposed the elimination of the two ed tech positions.

“Ed techs provide invaluable services in the school, which directly affect the education and development of our children, at an affordable price,” he said. “The administration, Principal Ithomitis and Superintendent Dorr, recommended the elimination of these positions — the last remaining ed techs at CHRHS. I suggested that these same savings, or potentially greater savings should come from concessions in the administrative department, rather than those directly affecting the education of our children. Eliminating one of two assistant principal positions, or maintaining the assistant superintendent position at half-time and reducing hours for certain clerical positions would have provided the same or greater expense reduction without any reduction in teacher and/or classroom related positions.”

Dorr said after the meeting in reference to the ed techs that an additional Title I (funded by the federal government) teaching position has been added. This position, a psychological examiner, “has a rich and deep background in intervention for kids who are struggling,” he said.

Funding for the $11.3 million budget will fall primarily on the taxpayers of the five towns, less $1.3 million from the state’s department of education, $203,510 from the Maine Department of Education for students living at the Harbor House and attending the high school, $207,358 in leftover federal funding from the 2010 Education Jobs Bills, and smaller amounts from facilities rental and tuition. The jobs bill distributed $39 million to Maine last year for education purposes.

While the Maine Department of Education had committed $1.3 million in subsidies to the CSD, it reduced that by $225,926 as a penalty to the district for not reorganizing with the K-8 districts of SAD 28 and the Appleton, Hope and Lincolnville Union 69. The CSD also anticipates a $60,000 increase in funding for state agency clients, those students living at Harbor House in Rockport.

Within the accounting lines the budget proposes spending:

• Instruction, $7.3 million, up $235,549, or 3.32 percent, from the current budget

• Administration, $760,637, up $31,600, or 4.33 percent

• Transportation, $414,877, down $6,900, or 1.64 percent

• Operations and maintenance, $1.16 million, down $20,771, or 1.76 percent

• Debt service, $1.4 million, down $72,038, or 4.63 percent

The budget includes a 3 percent increase in wages for a total of $5.5 million and a 6.5 percent increase in health insurance with Anthem Blue Cross.

In February, administrators originally requested an $11.56 million budget, but the school board’s finance committee went to work trimming it down. By March, the committee cut two educational technician positions, one in the library, the other in the Learning Center, with a reduction of $64,385; reduced the number of math textbooks by $7,100, which was based on actual course sign-ups by students; and voted not to replace a Clavinova for $2,800 for the music department (“We need a benefactor for our Clavinova,” said CSD Superintendent Wayne Dorr, after the April 6 meeting. “The one we have is held together with Duck tape and string.”)

The budget was also reduced by:

• $14,900 for special education transportation, due to fewer out-of-district placements;

• $5,220, for athletics, funding fewer tournaments and supplies;

• $35,000, cutting course reimbursements for teachers, as well as travel;

“I talked with the principals about scrutinizing trips,” Dorr said. “We had been able to support course reimbursement, but teachers are now going to have to come up with money to pay for them.”

• $3,000 less in the number of book purchases by the library;

• $27,500 for postponing entry repair work to the brick walkway foundation at the high school; and

• $20,000 in cuts for operations and maintenance.

Those cuts, as well as administrative cost reductions, less tuition to Mid-Coast School of Technology ($14,045) and shifting money from last year’s federal aid to help fund laptop purchases for students in special education reduced the budget by $279,590.

In March, the committee again trimmed, postponing the seat and carpet cleaning of the Strom Auditorium to save $2,500, and reduced general art, paper and copier purchases by $7,250.

The committee also heard from Keith Rose, director of maintenance for the high school, about saving $15,000 in electricity with a new policy now being crafted. According to Dorr, that policy would require lights out whenever rooms were empty, and microwaves, refrigerators and other heavy consumers of electricity would be discouraged in classrooms.

“There were two standards both boards [CSD and SAD 28] used in working on the budgets,” said Dorr. “They wanted to maintain the strength of the system through programming for the students. They rejected any serious reduction of programming for kids. Our kids have remarkable, highly valued and broad educational experiences.”

Dorr said that with both school boards, original budgets arrived carrying 6 to 8 percent increases.

“The boards got them to 1-plus percent in both cases,” he said.

That 1.34 percent increase will not, however, be split equally across the five towns; while Camden and Hope may be paying less this coming year to educate high school students, Appleton, Lincolnville and Rockport will pay more.

The increase for the latter three towns derives from their individual state valuations, which have increased over the past few years due to municipal revaluations, and property sales. The formula also depends in part on the number of students a town sends to the high school, as well as other factors.

This coming year, the CSD estimates the towns will pay the following to support the high school budget:

• Appleton, $344,657, up $7,524, or 2.23 percent, from this year

• Camden, $3,392,203, down $265,650, or 7.26 percent

• Hope, $548,319, down $22,910, or 4 percent

• Lincolnville, $1,604,408, up $138,374, or 9.44 percent

• Rockport, $3,325,852, up $319,670, or 10.63 percent