Voters wait in line to get their ballots in a special school budget election at Gorham Middle School on Tuesday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Gorham’s proposed school budget for next year is headed for a third townwide vote in August after voters Tuesday rejected a $49 million budget that was $2 million less than the school board’s original spending plan.

The final tally was 2,742 to 1,043, according to results posted Tuesday night by Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors.

The budget’s second defeat was a partial victory for the Gorham School Committee, which in the days leading up to Tuesday’s referendum urged voters to oppose the plan, arguing that its funding was too low.

School Committee members said it can now develop a third budget to present to the Town Council. They warned the $49 million proposal would have led to staff layoffs and reductions in after school sports and other programs.

“It is now the job of the School Committee to create a third proposed budget that acknowledges all the important community voices we have heard to date and to send this third proposal to the Town Council,” the School Committee said in a statement late Tuesday. “This third budget will strive to find that all important balance our community seeks between meeting the needs of our children and the needs of our taxpayers in this incredible community.

“We are hopeful that such a budget exists and that together, with the Town Council, and with our community we will have an approved budget at the conclusion of this third process.”


The School Committee will meet Wednesday night to begin developing another budget. Committee members plan to vote on the budget Aug. 2 with a public hearing and Town Council vote tentatively scheduled for Aug. 8.

If that timeline is followed, a third town vote on the budget will take place Aug. 15.

Committee members thanked the community for turning out Tuesday.

“We know how difficult it is for busy families and community members to get involved and to share their voices,” the committee said. “But what more important topic could community members get involved with then a topic that deals directly with two of its most precious resources, its children and its taxes?”

A voter walks their ballot to the voting machine after filling it out for a special school budget election at Gorham Middle School on Tuesday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Gorham’s initial $51.5 million school budget plan failed on June 13, 956 to 660, or 59% to 41%. That proposal would have amounted to a more than $5 million, or 11%, increase over this year’s $46.4 million budget. It would have added $1.31 per $1,000 valuation to the town’s tax rate, adding about $393 to the annual tax bill on a home valued at $300,000.

Gorham school officials opposed the $2 million in budget cuts approved by the Town Council following the June 13th vote.


The reduced budget changes included getting rid of middle school athletics, and high school sports would become “pay-to-play,” requiring fees for participation. The budget also would have eliminated the position of assistant superintendent, and 19 other positions.

Switching Gorham High athletics to a pay-to-play format would save $100,000, while cutting middle school athletics would save an estimated $50,000. High school and middle school non-athletic co-curricular activities would be eliminated to save a combined $118,000.  

“The reduction of middle school athletic programming would result in Gorham being the only public school in our conference, as well as across the state of Maine, that does not offer sports programs at the middle school level,” Tim Spear, Gorham schools athletic director, said before Tuesday’s referendum.

Gorham High School enrolled 836 students during the 2022-23 school year. Over 50% of students at the high school participate in at least one athletic program, said Spear.

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