Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 10, 2021
Sedgwick voters approve GSA tuition increase and other warrant items
More than 30 Sedgwick residents attended the June 5 in-person annual town meeting, held at the Sedgwick Elementary School gym.
by Jeffrey B. Roth
Sedgwick voters, on June 4, approved a George Stevens Academy $1,000 per student tuition increase 105-40. The approval will cost the town $51,000 for the 2021-22 school year.
Sedgwick was the last of the sending towns to pass the tuition increase request. Earlier this year, Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Penobscot and Surry voters approved GSA’s request.
“I am very thankful that Sedgwick’s voters approved our tuition request for next year, joining all the other towns in affirming that they believe in what we are doing, and indicating they want us to continue to be able to serve all students well,” said Tim Seeley, GSA head of school. “Taken in total, the request passed by a significant majority of the people who voted on the peninsula, although majorities in each town differed.”
More than 30 residents attended town meeting in person on June 5 at the elementary school. During the two-hour meeting moderated by David Anderson, residents approved warrant items ranging from a $100 donation to Maine Public to authorizing the town to expend a total of $2,761,224 for the pre-K-12 education budget.
Superintendent Christian Elkington, in response to a question about the increased cost of providing special education services, explained that the costs continue to go up. He added that he didn’t expect to see special ed costs “reducing anytime soon.” Noting that the overall education budget will increase by 1.67 percent, Elkington added that various factors, including increased state funding and various cost-saving initiatives, will reduce property taxes by 1.12 percent for 2021-22.
Members of the audience expressed their appreciation for the efforts of Elkington, district staff and the dedication shown by Sedgwick Elementary School administration, faculty, and other staff during the pandemic. Elkington, who is leaving as superintendent at the end of this month, was given a standing ovation for his service.
Voters also approved four fire company-related warrant articles totaling more than $100,000 to cover a $25,010 loan payment from surplus funds for the previously purchased fire truck; appropriated $51,000 for the fire protection budget; $30,000 from surplus for the fire equipment reserve account; and $1,000 from surplus for forest fire fighting expenses. Following the vote, Fire Chief David Carter received a round of applause in support of the fire company. Noting that the pandemic presented numerous challenges for the company, Carter said 2020 “was a crazy year.”
“You’ll notice in the [town] report that the number of calls have gone up astronomically,” Carter said. “That’s because of the [co-operative] agreement with Deer Isle and Stonington…which is actually working out pretty well. We’ve been pretty busy lately; we’ve had a busy couple of weeks. It’s nice to know that you’ve got the help when you need it.”
Voters also authorized the select board to “accept, with the Town of Brooksville, the donation of Brooksville Map 8, Lot 28, recognized as the Walker Pond Outlet from the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.” The property will be managed and jointly maintained by Sedgwick and Brooksville. A related item authorized the appropriation of $15,000 from surplus for the reserve account for the Sedgwick-Brooksville Town Landing at Walker Pond.