Brunswick voters on Tuesday approved the $52.9 million school budget, solidifying the town’s biggest property tax increase in years amid numerous fiscal pressures.

The vote was 1,280 in favor and 862 opposed during the referendum election at Brunswick Junior High School. Turnout was 10%, with 21,414 registered voters in town.

The school budget increased 9.2% over the current fiscal year, mostly due to rising staff salaries. The budget will contribute 4.8% to the projected 7.4% property tax increase with impacts from the municipal budget (2.3%) and county budget (0.3%) factored in. That means for a house assessed at $300,000, property taxes will increase about $480.

School officials said this year’s budget process was the most difficult in years, as they dealt with pressures from inflation, rising teacher salaries and an expected enrollment increase. The School Board cut more than $1 million from the original budget proposal to lessen the tax impact.

The budget includes funds for an additional teacher, instructional strategist and two educational technicians for about 100 new multilingual students from asylum-seeking families expected to enroll in the fall. A total of $838,500 was allocated for the new multilingual students. Teacher salaries rose by $1.7 million, and the special education budget increased by $900,333.

Voting on Tuesday was originally slated to be held at the recreation center, as the Town Council last year voted to move the polls there, but Secretary of State Shenna Bellows denied the move, saying the junior high is centrally located and moving it would disenfranchise low-income people, unhoused individuals and students.

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