There were no changes to the proposed $21,489,112 budget at the district-wide budget meeting for School Administrative District 40 on June 7 at Medomak Valley High School.

The budget will now go to voters of the five district towns on Tuesday, June 14 for a yes or no validation vote.

The budget meeting was held under a closed warrant, meaning that articles could be cut, defeated or approved, but the amounts of money for the articles could not be increased. There was some talk of dismissing an article, but no motions were made to approve an article at a lower amount. Approximately 84 voters participated in the budget meeting.

The proposed budget is up 2.8 percent ($621,155) from last year, and results in an increase of 4.58 percent for the local assessments.

There were a few general questions (Why is special education up?), a few specific ones (Can the middle school language program continue?) and some debate on the big issues (parental involvement leading to student success; test scores and teacher pay; class sizes for a rural school district; and the changing times of the Great Recession).

Special education is up from $2,726,198 last year to $3,109,362 because the district has lost Medicaid money that used to fund that account, said Superintendent Francis Boynton.

A foreign language teacher at Medomak Middle School was cut from the budget for a savings of $55,000.

Barrie Brusila of Warren said this was an important program, and should not be cut.

“As it stands now there is no language instruction in the seventh grade,” Brusila said. “There has been one teacher for the eighth grade who teaches both French and Spanish. And that position is not included in this budget and I understand budget constraints but it is very distressing to me that the kids in our district will not be having any language instruction until high school.”

Later in the meeting, the chairman of the SAD 40 Board of Directors said the district is not abandoning the middle school foreign language program.

“When we cut a program, first thing that we do is try to evaluate whether or not that program has been successful,” said Bonnie Davis Micue. “The program that we cut for foreign language hadn’t been particularly successful at the middle school so we’re going to take a year’s step back and re-address that. That’s not a dead issue as far as the board is concerned.”

John Higgins of Waldoboro asked several questions about fuel prices, contingency funds and class sizes.

“In this district we have approximately 209 teachers,” Higgins said. “The state indicates that the proper level for the number of students we have is 144. That’s 60 people plus. And the excuse the school board gives is, we’re trying to keep the classrooms small. Well it’s time for them to face reality. Throughout the United States everyone is facing the same dilemma. Schools are going broke. And the kids are the ones who are going to suffer. And if we don’t change some of our methods it’s going to get worse.”

Several other citizens, including Doris Vertz of Union, said teacher pay should relate to student scores. Vertz also criticized the school board Budget Committee for considering a $21.1 million for a few weeks before going back to the original $21.4 million budget.

John Black was the moderator of the meeting. SAD 40 Budget Manager Raymond Shute answered several questions.

In addition to the up or down vote on the total budget number, voters of Friendship, Union, Waldoboro, Warren and Washington will vote June 14 whether to obtain two additional school buses (and later get reimbursed by the state) and to establish a $75,000 fuel stabilization fund.

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