Scarborough residents voted by a narrow margin Tuesday to reject a $42.5 million school budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.

The vote was 1,169 to 1,013, with 14.2 percent of the town’s 15,318 voters turning out at the polls, said Town Clerk Tody Justice.

In a nonbinding advisory ballot question, 1,257 voters said the proposed spending was too high, 370 said it was too low and 516 said it was acceptable.

The town now has 10 days to revise the school budget and schedule a second referendum, following the same process that occurred last year.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome, but the vote was close,” said School Board Chairwoman Christine Massengill. “To be frank, it’s hard to know where we’ll make more cuts.”

The proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 called for a 7.6 percent increase over current spending. State law requires every public school district to hold a local budget referendum.

The School Board made some changes to the budget last week, after the Town Council voted 4-2 Wednesday to reduce the spending proposal by $587,000. Councilors pushed for a smaller school budget to hold the town’s overall tax rate increase at 3.5 percent.

School Board members agreed Thursday to reduce spending by about $387,000 and take $200,000 from a surplus account to cover the rest of the council’s budget reduction.

The spending reductions did not include any layoffs or program eliminations, but will reduce the number of positions to be added, said the school department’s director of business and finance, Kate Bolton.

The School Board has hoped to restore various full-time and part-time positions totaling 10.5 full-time equivalents, although it’s not clear how many will stay in the budget after the latest reductions.

The district lost 40 positions in 2011 and 2012, according to Bolton. Positions on the list to be restored ranged from a middle school world language teacher to guidance workers at the high school.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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