SANFORD – Voters in Sanford approved the $53.9 million school budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and agreed to continue with the annual budget validation referendum. However, only a fraction of the city’s eligible  voters turned out at the polls.

Voting was light in all three wards, and in the end, only 4 percent, or 630, of Sanford’s 14,321 registered voters cast ballots.

The school budget, of which $14.8 million is derived through property taxes, was approved 510 to 119 in unofficial tallies. There was one blank ballot.

As to continuing with the annual validation referendum, 421 voters said yes, and 206 said no. Three blank ballots were cast, according to City Clerk Sue Cote.

The spending plan includes cuts to school staff, including seven elementary and high school positions, a curriculum assistant, two education technicians, several part-time and stipend positions,  and more. Also, some positions that are currently full-time are poised to become part-time.

During the school budget process, school department officials said that about 45 percent of the jobs proposed to be cut were currently filled. The remaining 55 percent of them are vacant or will be absorbed by retirements.

The budget also contains a handful of new positions, including an assistant principal and a math interventionist at the junior high/middle school, and an in-school suspension ed tech and a third shift custodian at Sanford High School and Regional Technical Center. Those positions add about $245,000 to the budget.

Additional expenses to the budget are in special education, where  more students require out-of-district placement. School officials say they’re seeing an uptick in the number of students with severe needs.

In addition, salary increases for staff range from 2 to 3.25 percent.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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