GRAY — Voters on Thursday night passed a $23.8 million budget to fund SAD 15 schools in 2014-15.

The budget goes to a validation referendum June 10 in Gray and New Gloucester.

Moderator Don Libby of New Gloucester led roughly 100 voters through 17 warrant articles in 90 minutes.

Voters were required to cast written ballots twice on raising and appropriating additional local funds, because a voter put two ballots in the box the first time. The second try resulted in approval of $2.46 million in local funds. The vote was 75-24.

Sean Chayer of New Gloucester made a motion to reduce co-curricular and extracurricular spending by $77,000, but it failed. Voters approved spending $705,393, the original requested amount.

The budget is $1.5 million more than this fiscal year because more students will attend charter schools, there are more special education students and health insurance premiums rose by almost 10 percent. The number of students attending charter schools will go from 27 this year to 46 in 2014-15.


SAD 15 will receive a state subsidy of $9 million an increase of $504,866 from this year. The district will use $650,000 from this year’s budget to offset spending in 2014-15.

Gray’s assessment will be $9.07 million; New Gloucester’s, $4.98 million.

Preliminary figures show the budget would raise taxes by $107 on a New Gloucester home assessed at $100,000, and by $84 on a Gray home assessed at that amount.

“This year has been an extraordinary challenge,” said Ann Rowe, chairwoman of the board’s Finance Committee. “Our goal is continuous improvement of educational programs that our taxpayers can afford to pay. And all improvements have come with a price tag.”

Mandated expenses had little to do with student achievement, she said. “Our health insurance premiums rose 9.5 percent, and there is a significant increase in our special education population. We have no control of charter schools,” she said.

“How do we cover expenses and not pry apart our good work we have achieved?” Rowe asked. “We haven’t cut teachers or changed class sizes. We don’t believe a majority of citizens from both towns want to do that.”

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