Biddeford residents will vote June 14 on a $35.1 million education budget that adds a STEM academy for middle schoolers and addresses capital needs, but does not raise local property taxes.

The budget, if approved, will allow the school department to create a unique STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) academy at Biddeford Middle School, add a plumbing and heating program for high school students, develop additional programming for special education students and continue renovation work at the Center of Technology, said Superintendent Jeremy Ray.

Ray said a tax increase wasn’t needed because of an increase in state aid and revenue to the district.

“We’ve tried to settle things here financially and now we’re at the point where we can grow programming and provide some better options, while taking care of capital projects without impacting the tax rate,” Ray said.

The school department will add a total of four and a half positions, including two STEM teachers and a plumbing teacher.

The proposed budget approved by the school committee called for a $112,000 less in contributions from local property taxes, but the City Council added that money back to the budget and requested it be used to do more work at the Center of Technology. The center, based in an older building next to Biddeford High School, is going through a “piecemeal” renovation, Ray said.

“That’s two years in a row that (the council) has done that. They want to see that building improved,” Ray said. “It’s really nice to be here as a superintendent knowing we have a supportive school committee and city council. They go above to make sure we’re taking care of the buildings long term.”

Biddeford voters also will decide if they want to continue the school budget validation votes. That question is put to voters every third year.

Ray said he would like to see voters continue the budget votes because it gives them an opportunity to weigh in on how the district is spending money.

“With that process, we’re way more transparent,” he said.


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