The Cape Elizabeth School Board approved a school budget containing a 5.3 percent increase in a special meeting Aug. 1, and passed a resolution requesting that Town Council schedule a validation vote no sooner than Sept. 2, said school Business Manager Pauline Aportria.

It will be Cape Elizabeth’s third attempt to pass a school budget after two earlier budgets – one with a 4.3 percent increase and the other with a 6 percent increase – failed at the polls.

All of the budgets have been in the range of $19.7-$19.9 million. The highest, with a 6 percent increase, would have raised the tax rate 6.7 percent.

Like many other towns, Cape Elizabeth put its school budget to a town-wide vote for the first time this year under a new state law requiring popular “validation” of school budgets. Previously, school budgets had gotten final approval from only the seven-member town council.

Maine Department of Education spokesman David Connerty-Marin said he is aware of only two other towns in the state, Monmouth and Sabattus, that after two tries have still failed to pass a budget.

Aportria said Cape schools will operate under the last budget approved by the school board – $19.9 million, or a 6 percent increase – until a final budget is approved by voters.

Connerty-Marin said it’s not unusual for Maine school administrative districts composed of several member towns to have difficulty passing a budget.

“Provisions (in state law) still allow them to pay bills, et cetera,” he said. “It’s not a position that anyone really wants to be in, but it’s not an unworkable situation. On rare occasions we’ve had districts go most of the year before they’re approved.”

School board members and Superintendent Alan Hawkins could not be reached for comment following the vote.

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