Scarborough voters finally passed a 2015-16 school budget Tuesday, ending a contentious, monthslong validation process on the third attempt.

The vote was 1,679-1,053 in favor of the $43.5 million spending plan, with 22 ballots voided because they weren’t filled out properly, according to Town Clerk Tody Justice. Voter turnout was 18 percent, with 2,754 registered voters casting ballots, including 792 absentee ballots.

The $43.5 million budget is $250,000 less than the initial $43.8 million proposal that voters rejected on June 9, and it’s $250,000 more than the $43.3 million proposal that voters rejected on July 7.

Town Manager Tom Hall said municipal and school officials already have begun talking with parents and concerned taxpayers about ways to promote a smoother budget process next year.

“I am pleased that the community can move forward,” Hall said in a written statement. “We are committed to improving the process and connecting with the community going forward.”

The school funding issue has divided the town for months, fueling anti-tax and pro-school groups and drawing high voter turnouts; 4,080 residents, or 26 percent of registered voters, cast ballots in the July 7 referendum.

Restoring $250,000 in the final budget proposal preserved after-school activities and paid for several new teaching positions, among other budget items that might have been cut under a $500,000 reduction that was rejected July 7.

“This vote validates the community’s commitment to funding high-quality schools for the benefit of all our citizens,” Stacey Neumann, a parent who started Supporters of Scarborough Schools, said in a written statement.

“Proper school funding must be a priority,” Neumann said. “We look forward to supporting the Town Council and School Board in the months and years to come as we strive to strengthen our schools and public education.”

The approved budget for fiscal 2016, which started July 1, also calls for directing an additional $884,890 in state education aid to reduce the tax rate. The town learned about the additional subsidy on July 2.

The $43.5 million spending plan represents a $1.5 million, or 3.7 percent, increase over the $42 million 2014-15 school budget, which remained in effect until voters approved the 2015-16 budget. The property tax rate for both municipal and school services will increase 44 cents, or 2.9 percent, from $15.10 to $15.54 per $1,000 of assessed property value, adding $132 to the annual tax bill on a $300,000 home.

Under the initial $43.8 million budget proposal, the tax rate would have increased 87 cents, or 5.78 percent, from $15.10 to $15.97 per $1,000 of assessed value. That would have added $261 to the annual tax bill on that home. With a $500,000 reduction, the tax rate would have increased 72 cents or 4.75 percent, to $15.82 per $1,000, which would have added $216 to the same tax bill.

The council removed what has become known as a “Goldilocks” advisory question – when voters indicate whether they think the budget is too high, too low or just right – from Tuesday’s ballot.