SCARBOROUGH — With an 8 percent turnout for the FY22 school budget election, voters approved the school department’s proposed $55.7 million budget.

The Town Council certified the election results on June 16. Town Clerk Tody Justice said that of the 1,585 votes cast, 1,106 were in favor of the budget. There were 476 dissenting votes and three blank ballots.

Justice said that 628 ballots for the election were absentee.

The school’s net budget increase is 5.33 percent, with the overall increase to the mil rate projected to be 2.1 percent, said April Sither, Board of Education chair.

Sither is thrilled that the budget was approved, she said.

“It is always encouraging to see the community come together to support our schools,” she said. “The proposed FY22 budget was unanimously approved by both the School Board and the Town Council. This budget is responsive to the needs of our students, and we are excited to see increased support from the State. In the future we would love to see the voter turnout increase, and we are already discussing ways to increase engagement for future referendums.”

This year, the district knew that the budget was going to be more restorative than in 2020, Sither said.

“Last year’s budget was only a 1 percent increase in spending, and so we knew that we were going to have some things that we needed to reinstate in the budget,” she said. “Specifically, we had instructional coaches, professional development for our teachers and consumable costs that we knew that we were going to want to put back, and really, just to focus on what are kids are going to need for the start of the school year after a year of hybrid learning. Making sure that we had the staff in place was a huge focus.”

Scarborough has been a minimum receiver from the state for the past several years, Sither said. Maine has announced a commitment to fund 55 percent of public education costs this year, however.

“We expect to see a fairly significant increase in our state revenue, which will help us to not have to pass that burden onto our property taxpayers,” she said.

Seeing support during a challenging school year was nice, said Nicholas Gill, board member.

“This has been such a challenging year and it is affirming to see such a wide margin of voters support our schools and their mission, not just to educate our students, but also to provide a safe and healthy place to learn,” he said.

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