BETHEL – When voters from SAD 44 go to the polls Tuesday they will be asked to approve a school budget that represents an increase of 3.5 percent over last year.

Officials said they arrived at the proposed $8.9 million budget by comparing budgets over the past several years rather than looking only at line items.

According to Superintendent David Murphy, “We did the best we could with a big percentage of the increase being composed of negotiated salaries and health insurance increases and reduced what could have been a large increase down to the 3.5 percent we are asking for the local share.”

The ballot for the referendum includes six articles as follows:

• Article 1 asks voters if they want to appropriate $6,130,397 for the year 2003-04 with the district’s share at $4,041,557.

• Article 2 asks if the district should appropriate $386,732 from the debt service allocation and raise $265,364 as the local share of the debt service.

• Article 3 asks if the district should raise $1,205,089 in additional funds.

• Article 4 asks if the district should authorize the school board to expend $8,907,090 for the fiscal year.

• Article 5 asks if the district should appropriate $220,076 for adult education and raise $98,904 for the local share.

• Article 6 asks if the district should authorize the board to apply for gifts, advances, grants and aid.

It further noted that the budget does not include the estimated amount of $767,900 in employer share of teacher retirement costs that is paid directly by the state.

SAD 44 is composed of the towns of Andover, Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock. The polls will be open in the district towns as follows: Andover, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Bethel, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Greenwood, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Newry, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Woodstock, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Board of School Directors recommends passage of all articles.

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