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by Jessica Brophy
After more than six months of public meetings, budget forums and decision making between school administration and Community School District board members, 67 Deer Isle and Stonington residents amended the school board’s 2012-13 recommended budget at the annual budget meeting on June 7 to include an additional $147,000.
This brings the total school budget to $6,612,480—a 4.47 percent or $282,871 increase over this year’s $6,329,609 budget. Local taxpayer costs will increase by $139,478 over this year’s budget, if passed.
This amended budget will be voted up or down by Island voters on Tuesday, June 12. If residents vote to accept the budget, the school board would then decide what to do with the additional funds, as residents can call for dollar amount amendments to the budget, but the school board makes decisions on how funds are spent.
If residents vote to reject the $6.61 million budget, the school board will return to the drawing board, recommend a new budget for another public meeting followed by another two-town ballot vote.
Former school board member Andy Vaughn amended the article for K-12 regular instruction of the budget warrant to include an additional $129,000. Vaughn recommended the additional funds be used to have two fifth-grade classrooms next year, a middle level literacy teacher, and the gifted/talented teaching position kept at four days per week. The school board’s proposed budget had only one fifth-grade classroom of 24 students, eliminated the current middle level literacy teacher, and reduced the gifted and talented teaching position from 4 days per week to two and a half days per week.
After a lengthy discussion for and against the amendment, the amendment carried 44-23 in a secret ballot vote.
Vaughn also amended the article for student and staff instructional support to include an additional $18,000. Vaughn suggested the funds be used to retain a half-time high school librarian. The proposed budget had replaced the half-time high school librarian position with a half-time librarian aide.
After a discussion concerning whether removing the librarian would affect the high school’s accreditation status, the amendment to add $18,000 carried 46-9 by secret ballot.
The summary warrant articles dictating total budget numbers were amended to reflect these additions totaling $147,000 and approved 34-8 by secret ballot.
Polls are open in Deer Isle and Stonington from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12.
The school board will meet Thursday, June 14 at 5 p.m. at the elementary school to discuss next steps, whether the towns approve the budget or turn it down.