WALES — On their fourth attempt, voters in Regional School Unit 4 narrowly approved Tuesday a new school budget with two of the three towns approving a $21.57 million proposal for the 2023-24 school year, with a total 1,524 yes votes to 1,474 no votes.

Only 50 votes separated the yes and no votes, with Sabattus residents voting 729 to 617 in favor while Wales narrowly supported the budget 247 to 225. Litchfield voters said no to the budget with 632 voting no and 548 voting yes.

The latest budget was approved after a five-hour public meeting of the school board Oct. 24 that was, at times, both confusing and contentious. In the end, the following reductions were made to the board’s most recently approved budget of $21.86 million: system administration $20,000, school administration $20,000, facilities maintenance $287,617. A total of $45,473 was cut from the regular instruction cost center.

RSU 4’s first advanced budget of $22.38 million was rejected by voters June 13. That figure has been subsequently reduced each time to arrive at the current budget, which is 1.34% more than last year’s voter-approved budget.

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