Demonstrators rally in support of the Gorham school budget Tuesday at the corner of South Street and Weeks Road. Robert Lowell / American Journal

With classes resuming in just days, Gorham voters handily passed a $49.9 million school budget Tuesday after two previous attempts failed.

The vote was 2,235 to 1,431 in favor of the budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. The budget is up 7.7%, or $3.5 million, over last year’s $46.4 million budget and raises the portion of the town’s tax rate to pay for education nearly 10%, from $8.06 per thousand dollars of valuation to $8.84. Taxes to support Gorham education on a home assessed at $400,000 would rise $312 from $3,224 to $3,536.

Alex Nobles, a parent of three in Gorham schools, opposed the school budget saying the revaluation already raised his taxes. Robert Lowell / American Journal

“Everything is going up; it’s a fact,” said Ward 1-1 resident Bob Gould, who voted for the budget.

But Alex Nobles, who has three children in Gorham schools, said raising a family in town is getting too expensive.

“We already got a tax raise this year with the revaluation,” he said.

From the back of a pickup truck parked on South Street Tuesday, Nobles urged passersby to “Vote ‘No’ for Gorham Families.”


Tuesday’s vote was the third in the past two months.

The Town Council cut $800,000 from the School Committee’s proposed $52.2 million budget and sent a $51.5 million budget to voters in June, when it was rejected 956-660.

The council then cut $2 million from a revamped $50.2 million plan. The School Committee urged voters to defeat it because it was too low. The $48.2 million referendum failed July 25 2,742 to 1,043.

On Aug. 8, councilors voted 4-2, with Phil Gagnon and Suzanne Phillips opposed, to send a $49.9 million proposal budget to voters.

During the process of the validation votes, school officials made several sharp cuts to comply with Town Council orders, but the assistant superintendent’s position, four teaching positions and athletics have been restored, Superintendent Heather Perry said Wednesday.

“We would like to thank all those who turned out to vote on our third proposed budget. The Gorham School Committee is pleased with today’s vote and is eager to move forward,” Perry said in an email Tuesday night. “We know our work is not done. We pledge to continue our collaboration with the Town Council and the community to find the best long-term path forward for Gorham, its taxpayers and its children.”

The budget process was impacted by a $849,000 salary accounting error in the School Committee’s initial budget and discovered just before the second referendum. Town Council Vice Chairperson Ron Shepard pointed out last week that the error represented a correction and not a cut.

The school succeeded in all three wards and in absentee voting. Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors said Wednesday that 3,668 ballots were cast, representing a 23% turnout of 15,725 registered voters. The turnout last month was 24% and in June, 10.4%.

School starts Aug. 28 for grades 6, 9 and pre-K; Aug. 29 for grades 1-5, 7-8 and 10-12. Kindergarten students start Sept. 5.

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