A SAD 6 budget hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 18 at the Bonny Eagle Middle School cafeteria.

The hearing, according to SAD 6 Superintendent Suzanne Lukas, is part of the referendum process. It encourages the public to gather information and provides them the opportunity to ask questions.

At issue is the Board of Directors’ vote on June 27 to cut the fiscal year 2005-2006 school budget by a dollar after Article Four of the district referendum, requesting the appropriation of nearly $4 million in additional local funds, was defeated in the June elections.

“We’re in kind of a unique situation in that we have an approved budget,” said Lukas. “They’ve authorized us to spend that money.”

Lukas is referring to the amount approved in Article Five, over $35 million, which is the total school budget amount and includes the $4 million amount of local funding that was defeated. She is concerned that the wording of Article Four may have confused some voters, making them think that sum was in addition to the $35 million requested for the budget.

“The board worked really hard this year to build a responsible budget,” said Lukas. “We really tried to trim it.” Lukas pointed out that the budget has increased 4.9 percent, which is “favorable in comparison to neighboring communities.”

But not all SAD 6 directors agree with the dollar decrease. In fact, the three Standish directors present for that decision all voted against it, favoring deeper cuts instead.

“The public obviously turned Article Four down the first time,” said Standish Director David Hopkins, “and they expected us to reduce it by more than a dollar.”

But public reaction to their vote is mixed. When interviewed recently in the Colonial Marketplace parking lot, individuals who live in the school district were divided on the dollar reduction.

“I can understand how they might want to try the budget again so that maybe if more folks show up, it will pass,” said Andrew Shiland of Standish. “Showing up is 92 percent of the battle. I’m all for the school budget being passed but you’ve got to have an unofficial quorum. Being voted down the first time will be better for those who want to pass it.”

But Philip Lymburner of Standish said, “That’s a slap in the face – an insult. We’re going to take that back. I think they made people mad with that one-dollar decrease and we’re going to come back and haunt the school board.”

And, while they were not opposed to the current budget figures, Richard and Carrie Parker of Buxton felt that more of it should be spent on maintenance and repairs.

“They shouldn’t put so much money into the soccer fields when there are so many problems in the school buildings,” said Carrie Parker. “Electrical wires sticking out of the walls with no caps, bathroom doors that won’t lock. I don’t think the budget should be cut but the way it’s disbursed should be changed.”

The budget hearing on July 18 is a chance for the public to comment and to ask questions about the school budget before the special referendum vote, which is scheduled for July 26.

“If people do not come and get the facts,” said Board Chairman Oleg Svetlichny, “they might be reluctant to vote or would be voting without having all the facts. I just hope people will come. Hopefully a large crowd will show up because it’s important.”

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