Voters move $11.5 million SAD 29 budget forward

15 years ago

By Karen Donato
Staff Writer

    Just a few weeks ago the local citizens voted down the proposed $11.5 million school budget presented by Superintendent Steve Fitzpatrick with approximately 150 people attending.
    Since then the school board met to discuss the situation and chose not to change the proposal. They stayed steadfast to the course stating that they had spent many hours deliberating and truly believed this was the appropriate sum of money to request in order to provide and maintain the best education possible for the students in SAD 29.
    That being said, Fitzpatrick offered to have a 30-minute question-and-answer period prior to the 6 p.m. scheduled budget approval meeting on July 14 at Southside School. He gave everyone an equal opportunity to attend this meeting and voice their concerns, since this was the time to either decrease or increase the proposal.
    The informational session included only about a dozen in the audience and most of them were school staff. Little by little more voters trickled in until there were just a smidgeon more than 50. There were four town managers or clerks, 11 school board members and the remainder was either school staff, town councilors and finally a few interested citizens.
    Fitzpatrick entertained several questions. He explained flat funding, described the stimulus package received from the federal government, outlined the increases or decreases in money from the four towns that comprise the district and how SAD 29’s cost per pupil is one of the lowest in the County.
    Chairman, Brian McGuire said, “This is the best budget that we can offer to the voters. We need to stay with this. We have put many hours into this budget and we have cut it as much as possible.”
    Fitzpatrick echoed McGuire’s comments saying, “This is not about being aloof or arrogant, it is appropriate for the children of this district. Doing anything less would jeopardize their education. Tonight is the night to ask questions.”
    Forrest Barnes was selected as moderator for the evening and read each of the warrants one by one. All 20 were passed overwhelmingly by the voters present.
    By the time this article is published the final vote will have been taken as the validation date for the budget was yesterday, July 21 in Monticello, Littleton, Hammond and Houlton.
    As of noon Tuesday more than 200 voters had cast their vote at the Gentle Memorial Building in Houlton, more voters than the previous turnout for the entire day.