LEWISTON — Polls will be open Tuesday for residents to vote a second time on the proposed school budget.

It failed to pass last month when about 4% of registered voters went to the polls.

The School Department has since increased public messaging urging more people to vote.

Since the last vote, the School Committee made additional cuts of just under $1.13 million to the previously proposed $111.47 million budget, bringing it down to about $110.34 million. If approved, the new school property tax rate would be $13.85, $1.68 more that this year. That would be a tax bill of about $4,155 for a home valued at $300,000.

Staffing salaries and costs went up this year, largely due to inflation. Another factor driving up costs is an expected increase in spending on private schools, where the district sends special education students that need more educational support than city schools can currently provide.

School Committee members agreed to use $650,000 from its special education reserve to offset the budget and bring the amount raised through taxation down. The changes were passed by the City Council last week in a 5-2 vote.

Superintendent Jake Langlais plans to expand special education programming in the city to bring those students back to city schools and cut down on those costs, which required more funding in the budget during initial budget negotiations.

In a statement Friday, Langlais said he is not telling anyone how to vote but he is encouraging people to approve the budget if they support school resources for those in in need, education, summer programming, after school programming, sports, pathways for success, special education programming for high need students, making schools safer and maintaining instruction and support at its current level.

If the budget fails a second time then the School Department will have to pause hiring, reduce programming and discontinue other items immediately, he said.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at all regular polling locations.

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