St. George citizens rallied their troops Wednesday night, June 8 and saved their music program from cuts.

The move, however, did not add to the budget as those same citizens agreed to cut a proposed new position of a volunteer coordinator out of the proposed Regional School Unit 13 budget for 2011-2012.

The overall $25,948,205 budget was approved without any further changes by the 73 people who turned out for the public vote. This is not the final say, however.

The budget is not formally approved unless it is approved by a majority of voters at the polls on Tuesday, June 14. Residents of Rockland, St. George, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing can go to the polls June 14 to say yes or no to the budget recommended at the June 8 meeting.

Absentee ballots are available at municipal offices.

If the budget is rejected, it would return to the RSU 13 Board, which could make changes before sending it back to the public.

The only changes made to the budget as opposed to what the board had recommended was money to maintain the band program for the St. George School, Rockland District Middle School, and Thomaston Grammar School. The money retained the band teacher position at St. George at a three-fifths position instead of the one-third recommended by the superintendent and board.

William Reinhardt, the chairman of the St. George Select Board, told the gathering that the select board had voted to recommend that the money be retained. He noted the importance of the band to the community, noting the students turned out in full numbers for this year’s Memorial Day ceremonies.

Teacher Joshua McPhail of St. George urged the citizens to approve the added money, noting there would be no increase to taxpayers because the group would then recommend elimination of the volunteer coordinator post.

Rockland board member Esther Kilgour urged defeat of the proposal.

“I think it’s irresponsible to ask for more money from the citizens of Rockland,” Kilgour said.

Kilgour noted that Rockland has been “taking it on the chin” because of the local funding formula that requires Rockland to pay a larger share each year for another three years.

She noted that the contracts with employees are not settled and that this is a large financial unknown facing the district.

Doug Curtis Sr. said he lives in Rockland but he did not object to the St. George proposal, noting the importance of music.

The gathering approved the $34,627 for the band program by a 41-32 vote.

By a wider margin, voters agreed to cut the proposed addition of a volunteer coordinator.

Former School Administrative District 5 Board Chairwoman Audrey Buffington of South Thomaston noted she had recommended a volunteer coordinator but stressed that she felt the position would also be a volunteer position. The coordinator position was budgeted at the $34,627.

Jennifer Garrett of St. George, who teaches at the school, said it made no sense to cut programs and add a position.

Kilgour said the person could have been a liaison between the schools and the community to bring people in to help students.

Donald Robishaw of Rockland made several attempts to cut the budget by proposing reductions in contingency accounts in the budget. Those motions were defeated. The budget includes $300,000 in contingency accounts. Robishaw had proposed cutting $75,000.

The citizens also rejected a proposal by Robishaw to cut $109,567 from the technology budget. This proposal was met with a nearly hour-long debate among the citizens on the need for technology, whether teachers had been consulted, and whether all teachers would use the technology. The budget includes money for projectors in all the classrooms.

At an earlier meeting, Superintendent Lucarelli urged support for the classroom projectors. While middle and high school students have laptop computers, the superintendent noted if a teacher wanted to go to an interactive website, there would likely not be sufficient bandwidth for all 20 students in a class to go to that site. The projector would allow the teacher to project that website in the classroom for all students to see.

The cost of the projectors is budgeted at $106,000.

The proposed budget totals $25,948,205, about 2 percent more than the approved 2010-2011 budget.

Rockland will have to raise $7,207,099, an increase of 4 percent. Thomaston will have to raise $3,100,968, up 1 percent.

St. George will have to raise $4,017,838, a decrease of nearly 5 percent. Cushing will have to raise $2,550,578, a drop of nearly 4 percent. South Thomaston will have to raise $2,395,544, a drop of less than 1 percent. Owls Head will have to raise $2,261,958, a drop of 8 percent.

One major uncertainty on the expense side is pay. The district has no contracts in place for 2011-2012. The teacher contract, which accounts for the largest amount of personnel costs, expired in the summer of 2009. Under the current system, former SAD 50 teachers are paid less than their counterparts in the SAD 5 system.