MEXICO — A small crowd of Vocational Region 9 residents easily passed the 2012-13 secondary and adult and community education budgets at a districtwide meeting Wednesday night.
Residents voted 21-3 for a $2,137,890 secondary budget, up about 2.5 percent from the current year's operating figure. Because of carryover funds, the vocational school's 16 member towns will pay a total of just under $37,000 more for the program for 2012-13 than for 2011-12.
Voters also approved the proposed $318,909 adult and community education budget 23-2. About $168,000 will be paid by member towns. The remaining funds come from class fees and grants. The budget is about 4 percent higher than the current year.
At a meeting after the vote, the school board unanimously voted to direct the Finance Committee to meet with Region 9 Director Brenda Gammon and Adult Education Director Nancy Allen to prepare a proposal that could call for inviting the heads of various departments and programs to the full board during the budget development process.
“We should be here listening to program needs,” said Region 9 member Betty Barrett, who also sits on the RSU 10 board.
Gilead representative Paul Handlen agreed.
“I need more information to understand the budget better,” he said.
None of the board members wants to take over the line-by-line review of a proposed budget, as conducted by the Finance Committee. They do, however, believe additional information would be helpful.
“We're not saying we want to dissolve the Finance Committee, Bruce Ross, representing RSU 10, said. Having department heads come before the board "allows the board to hear an overview and ask questions, so when it's time for the budget, we're not in the dark.”
The full board is expected to act on the proposal at the June 6 Region 9 meeting.
Current Finance Committee member Lynn Arizzi, who also sits on the SAD 44 board, said she and other Finance Committee members have devoted 10 meetings, of at least three hours each, to listening to department head requests, and reviewing the budget line by line prior to the adopted budget proposal by the full board.
The board also approved merging the Program and Personnel committees, which results in four standing committees. The others are committees on policy, finances and facilities.