POLAND — RSU 16’s proposed $17.8 million budget for 2011-12 received strong support at Tuesday’s district budget meeting.

The meeting marked the fourth time since May that Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland residents have approved School Committee-proposed budgets presented town meeting-style at district budget meetings.

However, each time, in May, in June, and again in September, district voters turned down the budgets that came out of the district budget meeting when they went to validating referendum votes.

Poland Selectman Steve Robinson argued that the budget, unchanged from the budget that failed to pass in September, might very well go down to defeat when it goes to a validating referendum vote.

“If you don’t change the number, it will fail on Nov. 8,” Robinson said.

He moved for an amendment to reduce the budget by $100,000, saying such a reduction would not irreparably harm education.


Regional School Unit 16 Superintendent Dennis Duquette argued otherwise, backing the School Committee’s contention that further reductions would negatively affect students.

Duquette pointed out that the budget was $1.3 million lower than it was in 2009, that the district has 59½ fewer staff positions than it did four years ago and that the district’s per-pupil costs were just about $1,000 lower than the state average.

Robinson’s amendment failed, in a paper ballot, by a vote of 29-78.

A total of 116 residents registered at the meeting, with 19 coming from Mechanic Falls, 29 from Minot, and 48 from Poland.

District voters will decide the fate of the proposed $17.8 million budget in a referendum scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8. Absentee ballots will be available, starting today, at town offices in the respective towns.

Meeting moderator Colleen Quint reminded people that, according to regulations in effect this year, those voting absentee must return their completed ballots by Thursday, Nov. 3.

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