RUMFORD — A proposed 2012-13 RSU 10 operating budget of $35.1 million was passed in about 90 minutes Thursday night.
Sumner resident Tom Standard unsuccessfully attempted to amend many of the 21 articles by proposing reductions of 5 to 20 percent.
“We do not live in an affluent neighborhood, with 63 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunches," he said. "We with limited means must stick to the basics. We cannot afford a luxury class school and I believe schools can cost less,” he said.
Standard proposed reductions in regular education from $12.6 million to $10.7 million, in special education from $5.6 million to $4.8 million, and in vocational education from $1.8 million to $1.5 million, among many others.
Several people from the Buckfield-Sumner-Hartford area often agreed with Standard's proposed amendments, along with some from Dixfield and Byron.
Roger Boucher, a former selectman from Byron, said spending about $16,000 per child for the 19 to 24 youngsters who attend RSU 10 was a major reason for that town's attempt to secede from RSU 10.
“I don't understand the formula,” he said, that charges much more for children from Byron to attend school than it does for those from larger communities.
“Our children get the same education as everyone else,” Boucher said.
Superintendent Tom Ward said property valuation increases are particularly hard on small communities, such as Byron. This year, those increases totaled $45 million.
He said next year, valuations are expected to drop by $18 million systemwide which should help the smaller towns.
Residents approved the additional local share of $4.9 million by written ballot. That vote was 60-27, which pretty much reflected the hand votes taken throughout the 20 other articles.
Buckfield resident Judy Berg said Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris passed a similar budget, but has 600 more students than RSU 10 which enrolls about 2,800.
The next step in the process will likely have far more voter participation.
Residents from the 12 member towns will vote by referendum on just one question: the $35.1 adopted budget. That vote takes place June 12.
The current budget is $34.1 million.