Windham voters have approved a $41 million Regional School Unit 14 budget, increasing town property taxes by 1.4 percent.

At the June 10 elections, Windham residents voted 708-338 in favor the budget, which was also approved by Raymond voters. The budget increases school district spending by 3.52 percent – the biggest increase in recent years.

The school budget decreased during the first two years of district consolidation, but has steadily grown since, increasing by 2.75 percent in fiscal year 2012, 2.63 percent in fiscal year 2013, and 1.87 percent last year. Since 2009, the budget has increased an average of 1 percent per year, according to Superintendent Sandy Prince.

Assistant Superintendent Donn Davis said the budget increases the tax bill on a $250,000 Windham home by $34.32.

“We’re obviously very pleased,” Davis said. “We know that fiscal times are not good and we greatly appreciate the continued support of the public in both Raymond and Windham to support our educational programming. We feel blessed really. The two communities are wonderful.”

According to Davis, the proposed school budget represents a 4 percent property tax increase in Raymond. The tax bill on a $250,000 home in Raymond will increase by $87.39, he said.

The reason for the discrepancy, Davis said, has to do with the state’s Essential Programs and Services Formula, which distributes education funds based on a municipality’s student population size and assessed property valuation, among other factors. This year, the state has contributed $15.1 million to the district’s budget – representing a nearly 37 percent contribution.

But Windham has received the lion’s share of the state aid, Davis said. While Raymond is set to receive nearly 33 percent of the aid, Windham is set to receive the rest. Davis said that the formula accounts for the difference.

Davis said it was hard to tell whether the district would put forward a similarly-sized tax hike next year, as well. Although the district is considering constructing a new middle school in Windham in the near future, Davis said it is not yet clear whether the district would propose a substantial tax raise next year.

“We need to compile the data as time moves on and things evolve,” he said. “It’s certainly not our intent to be in a place where we’re putting our good standing at risk with the public in terms of taxation, so we’ve got to be mindful of that into the future.”

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