DEER ISLE — Deer Isle and Stonington voters finally approved the CSD 13 school budget Tuesday evening, agreeing on a total of $6,782,113.
More than 200 voters attended the almost-three-hour meeting, which was the third attempt to pass a budget.
During the meeting, residents approved two amendments that made the final total almost $300,000 more than what voters asked for in the last public session, but it passed anyway by a margin of 114-98.
The district’s two schools have an enrollment of 316 students, which means the average spending is $21,462 per student.
The School Board first proposed a $7.1-million school budget, but voters rejected it at a June 18 meeting. The board then brought a $6.9-million plan to a July 15 meeting, but residents still thought it was too high, approving a plan to reduce it to $6.5 million.
The July 15 vote was ruled illegal, though, because state statute requires a vote on each warrant article, which didn’t happen at that meeting. Greg Im, an attorney with Portland firm Drummond Woodsum, who represents the School Board, was present at Tuesday’s meeting to make sure everything was done in accordance with Maine law.
Some in attendance were not thrilled with the proposed budget, saying it is much too high in relation to the number of students enrolled at the schools.
“Where do we stop? Where do we stop with the budget? You directed us two meetings ago to cut the budget, with no dollar amount,” Board Co-chairman Stephen York said before the vote. “We came back, and by a fluke of bad advice, we didn’t complete the process when you told us to cut it to 6.5 [million dollars].”
York also noted how close the votes were in the previous meeting.
“I’m just really sad to see how divided this island is tonight,” he said.
The first amendment increased the sum the district will be allowed to expend for K-12 regular instruction, alternative education and gifted/talented instruction by $298,501 for a total of $2,547,149.
Kyra Alex of Stonington spoke in favor of the amendment, saying that the additional funds will allow the district to retain two elementary school positions, an alternative education position, a middle school math position, a high school teaching position and a gifted and talented teaching position.
“I feel like it’s a good compromise,” Alex said. “School starts in four weeks; cutting six teaching positions with less than a month to plan will have a negative impact on our children and our community.”
The second added $13,612 to the amount district will be allowed to expend for “other instruction,” bringing that total to $222,946. “Other instruction” covers extracurricular activities, Superintendent Mark Jenkins said.
Voters still need to approve the final budget in a validation vote on Tuesday at the Deer Isle and Stonington municipal offices.