MEXICO – The Region 9 board approved vocational secondary, adult and community education budgets Tuesday night for the next school year.

The budgets now go to voters for a May 16 referendum.

Although the numbers will remain the same, the distribution of assessments for the sending districts and towns may change slightly in the adult education budget because SAD 44 may withdraw from that agreement.

Approved was a secondary figure of $1,216,421, up about 5 percent from this year. Director David Driscoll said the overwhelming reason for the increase can be attributed to fixed costs such as salaries, and health insurance and heating and fuel oil increases. Just under $10,000 was added for a part-time receptionist position.

As adopted by the board, SAD 43’s assessment would increase nearly 7 percent, from $509,253 for 2006 to $543,327 proposed for 2007. For SAD 21, those figures are $347,137 and $379,965, and for SAD 44, $253,892 and $244,983.

SAD 43 sends nearly 46 percent of the total Region 9 students, SAD 21 sends 33 percent, and SAD 44 sends 19 percent.

The adult and community education budget was approved at $240,998, up about 3.5 percent from this year’s figure of $232,776, largely because part of the computer technician’s salary and benefits were moved from the secondary education budget to the adult education budget.

Despite the higher budget, Driscoll said the total assessment will decrease slightly because of additional state subsidy.

Driscoll said SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin recommended that SAD 44 be removed from the Region 9 adult education program.

“SAD 44 has its own and has not used this program a lot,” said Driscoll.

However, if SAD 44 withdraws from the Region 9 adult education program, board Chairman Norman Clanton, a representative from SAD 44, said the weighted votes may have to change on the cooperative board whenever an adult education question arose.

He said SAD 44 contracted adult education when the agreement began many years ago. That status eventually evolved to part of the vocational region’s cooperative agreement.

Removing SAD 44 from paying any portion of the Region 9 adult education program is a fundamental change, he said.

“Have we thought out all the ramifications?” he asked the board.

As the proposed adult education budget stands now, with SAD 44 paying nothing, SAD 43 is assessed at $97,696, up from $83,449 for this year, and SAD 21 would be assessed $43,214, up from $36,516. SAD 44 was assessed a total of $21,957 this year.

The Region 9 board is expected to continue discussion on the change in assessments for adult education at a later meeting.

Residents of the 11-town vocational region will have a chance to comment on the two proposed budgets at public hearings set for 5:30 p.m. at Telstar Regional High School and at 7:30 p.m. at the Region 9 school on the River Road on April 13.

The vote takes place at 6:30 p.m. on May 16 at the River Road school.