Voters across Maine School Administrative District 75 approved a $52.8 million school budget at the polls on Tuesday, despite low voter turnout.

Less than 5% of voters from Harpswell, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Topsham hit the polls to accept the budget.

According to unofficial election results, Topsham voters backed the budget 312-96; Bowdoinham supported it 132-61; Bowdoin backed it 71-41; and Harpswell adopted it 184-32.

The school board initially proposed the $52.8 million budget — a $3 million hike from last year — at an April 13 meeting. The new budget will increase taxes by $227 on average, according to the district’s financial team.

Salaries and benefits of school employees account for over 70% of the 2023-2024 budget, which increases teachers’ salaries by 5.5%, education technicians by 10.3% and groundskeepers/custodians by 8.5%.

The budget also accounts for a 23% increase in debt service because the district has to make its first principal payment of $900,000 on the $9 million school improvement bond approved last year.

Other increases include an 11.7% hike, or $387,332, for four new buses and three passenger vans used for special education and out-of-district transportation.

School Board Chairperson Frank Wright said he was glad to see the budget pass.

“Whenever the budget is passed, there is always a deep sense of relief and a sense of gratitude to those who prepared it and did the difficult work of making cuts to bring it to a place that was acceptable to the community at large,” Wright said. “The budget is always predicated upon the needs of students first, our extensive widespread facilities and our present obligations. Balancing this is always a challenge.”

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