More than 500 voters in Regional School Unit 9 attended a budget meeting Wednesday night at which a $33.63 million spending plan was approved. The budget will go to a validation referendum Oct. 24 in each of the district’s 10 towns. 

FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 voters approved a $33.63 million budget Wednesday on the school system’s fourth attempt since May to secure a spending plan.

The budget will go to voters in a validation referendum Oct. 24 in each of the district’s 10 towns.

The 2017-18 proposal is $887,984 more than last year’s budget.

For the second districtwide vote in a row, the meeting started more than 30 minutes late to accommodate the number of people checking in to vote: 522 voters checked in by 7:25 p.m. in the gym of Mt. Blue Campus.

Ronald Aseltine was elected moderator for the fourth time since budget votes began about five months ago.

Matthew Allen of Wilton motioned to have 15 minutes of debate per article and 2 minutes per individual, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters.

Voters approved $10.27 million for regular instruction and  $5.25 million for special education.

Prior to the vote on special education, Business Manager Kris Pottle answered a voter’s questions about social workers. She said four social workers are included in the budget.

Of that number, Special Education Director Christine Ghatto Shea said three and a half were for day treatment programs.

Alycia Stevens of New Sharon, an RSU 9 bus driver, said drivers need more help on buses for students who have special needs. It is difficult to drive the bus and take care of students’ needs, she said. She would like to see education technicians’ hours be longer to help with students’ needs on buses.

Voters approved $6.14 million for career and technical education. The Foster Career and Technical Education Center gets more than 100 percent reimbursement from the state for the program, former Foster Director Glenn Kapiloff said in answer to questions.

Voters also approved spending $451,029 for other instruction, including elementary and secondary athletics and co-curricular, and for elementary intramurals.

A resident asked that Articles 5 through 11 be taken as a block. Voters approved, followed by applause.

Siiri Stinson of Wilton expressed gratitude for what the administration has gone through over the past several months. She also commended Pottle for everything she has contributed to the district, her knowledge and dedication. The audience gave Pottle a standing ovation.

Paul Frederic of Starks said he was extremely thankful for the district accepting Starks into RSU 9 in 2012. People in that town are pleased with the arrangement and service and they will continue to do their very best to make the district as great as possible, he said. He hopes the other nine towns can appreciate how great the district is, Frederic said. A fellow Starks resident also commended the district.

Voters approved spending $2.28 million on students and staff support, including guidance, health, library, volunteer, student support and instructional services.

They also approved $1.34 million for school administration and $2.06 million for transportation and buses.

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RSU 9 validation referendum on Oct. 24

Chesterville: noon to 8 p.m., Town Office

Farmington: noon to 7 p.m., Community Center

Industry: 2 to 8 p.m., Town Office

New Sharon: noon to 7 p.m., Town Office

New Vineyard: 1 to 7 p.m., Smith Hall

Starks: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Community Center

Temple: 1 to 7 p.m., Town Hall

Vienna: 1 to 7 p.m., Fire Station

Weld: 4 to 8 p.m., Town Office

Wilton: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Town Office

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