2014-05-16 / Front Page

School budget rejected by narrow margin

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Scarborough voters wait in line to get their ballots for this year’s school validation vote, which asked residents if they approved the school district’s $42.5 million budget. The budget was narrowly defeated by the slightly more than 2,180 voters who participated in the vote. (Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough voters wait in line to get their ballots for this year’s school validation vote, which asked residents if they approved the school district’s $42.5 million budget. The budget was narrowly defeated by the slightly more than 2,180 voters who participated in the vote. (Michael Kelley photo) For the second year in a row, and the third since 2010, Scarborough voters have rejected the school budget. Last May, the budget failed by a vote of 898 to 643, before finally passing in June. On Tuesday, the vote was much closer, with 1,013 people supporting the budget and 1,169 rejecting it.

A revised budget will be worked on in the coming days and weeks before a second validation vote is scheduled sometime later this spring. A budget needs to be adopted before July 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2015.

Rebecca Hauk was among those who voted against the budget.

“This town spends too much money on the schools,” she said as she exited the polls Tuesday morning.


Despite signs urging voters to support the school budget placed in strategic locations along Route 1, including the corner at Broadturn Road, the school spending didn’t get the support it needed and failed to pass. (Michael Kelley photo) Despite signs urging voters to support the school budget placed in strategic locations along Route 1, including the corner at Broadturn Road, the school spending didn’t get the support it needed and failed to pass. (Michael Kelley photo) Like many others, Hauk is concerned what the school spending could mean for senior citizens.

“Those signs around town that say SOS: Support Our Schools should be Save Our Seniors,” Hauk said referring to the Board of Education – sponsored signs that were put along Route 1 in the days leading up to the validation.

Craig Gray said this year’s budget angered him so much that he decided to do something about it.

“This is one of the issues that got me hot enough to send email to express to members of the council my dissatisfaction. We just need to get this stuff under control,” Gray said.

Hauk and Gray were among the 1,257 people who indicated, in a non-binding question, that they thought the school budget was too high.

“It was too high. I don’t want my taxes to go up. They have gone up too much already,” said JoEllen Grondin, a 1984 graduate of Scarborough High School. “I don’t think the schools really need that money.”

Mary Duca, a senior citizen, said she, too, is worried about being able to afford her ever-increasing tax bill.

“We seniors are getting killed in Scarborough. It almost makes it impossible to stay in your home,” Duca said.

It was something John McDonough and Helene Plourd could relate to.

“It has an adverse effect on retirees, but I understand they want to do the best they can for the kids,” McDonough said.

“The school board is not being realistic with its budget compared to what’s going on in people’s lives,” Plourd said.

Grondin said despite her rejection of the school budget, she believes the schools are doing a good job preparing students with the resources available.

“The education is there,” Grondin said. “It is all about what the children want to get out of it.”

Charlie Perakis said the school department needs to do a better job budgeting its money.

“Just as a family needs to live within its budget, the town needs to live within its budget,” he said. “Some of us would like a fancy luxury car, but if you don’t have the money, you end up driving a more economical vehicle. I think the school board in particular doesn’t understand that there needs to be a better balance between what the taxpayers can afford to pay and what is necessary for great education for our children.”

The budget that was rejected Tuesday was a version of the $43.4 million Superintendent George Entwistle presented to the Board of Education March 20. That budget was reduced after a Finance Committee review and the Board of Education approved a $42.7 million budget on May 1. The Town Council reduced that number by $587,000.

Dave Dittmer, one of the 370 voters who thought the budget was too low, said the budget has already been cut too much. Now, with the rejection by voters, the budget will have to be reduced even more.

“We are trying to play catch-up, and it has been hard with the cuts that have been made recently to catch up,” said Dittmer, shortly after approving the budget.

He said the cost of living for schools and the increasing costs for fixed expenditures makes it difficult to cut the budget without impacting education.

“With all the expenses going up, trying to implement any sort of spending cap will cut into services offered,” he said.

Jeanna Tudor, whose daughter will be a senior at Scarborough High School in the fall, was among the 1,013 who supported the budget, but doing so was no easy decision.

“I voted for the budget. It was a hard decision,” Tudor said. “I don’t like my taxes increasing, but at the same time, our schools need to be properly funded. It was a tough decision. It is a tough economy.” Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at

The amendments

• From April 1 to Labor Day, dogs are
prohibited at all times in restricted areas of:
- Higgins Beach from Champion Street to
the Spurwink River
- Ferry Beach from the southern end of the
parking lot to Ferry Rock
- Western Beach
• From April 1 to Labor Day, dogs are
allowed in the restricted area on Pine

Point, which runs from Hurd Park to the
Scarborough River, only if they are on leash.
• From May 15 to Labor Day, dogs are not
allowed on any beach from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
They must be on leash from 5 p.m. to dusk.
From the day after Labor Day to May 14,
dogs are allowed on beaches, but must be
leashed from 1 to 3 p.m.
• When off leash, dogs must be under both
sight and voice control

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