It’s back to the drawing board for the Madawaska School Department..the school budget failed to pass Tuesday’s referendum validation by more than 40 votes.
“It sends the message, look at your budget again so we’ll look at the budget again,” said Ginette Albert, superintendent of schools.
Residents had approved the the budget at the town meeting earlier this month…The proposed 6.5 million dollar budget increased 90,500 thousand dollars from last year but according to Albert 82 thousand dollars represents the purchase of a new school bus for the Grand Isle school department — so she says really the budget increased by 8 thousand dollars.
“Basically what would have happened if this would have been approved is that a family that had a 100 thousand dollar home would have had an increase of about 25 dollars in their taxes for 100 thousand dollars,” said Albert.
Albert says she understands people don’t want to see their taxes go up. She said what hurt the school department is a loss of more than 150 thousand dollars in state funding…and then a 43 thousand dollar commitment from the town. As she and the school committee prepare to make more cuts, teachers have their concerns.
Bonny Plourde-Tingley, president of the Madawaska Education Association asks, “Where does the superintendent of schools have to go to cut? What will she have to do? I’m confident that she will do the best she can to provide a top notch education.”
Parents in the area also have concerns. Vanessa Gagnon has four kids that go to Madawaska Schools and she said “my concern for my children’s education grows as the budget issues continue and as cuts are made my concern for our town and community grows as well.”
Albert says she and the school board are in the midst of forming a committee to look at long term planning – but in the meantime, she’s hopeful that they can get a budget passed before school starts in the fall.
“I’m highly optimistic, how’s that?,” she said.
According to state law the school board is allowed to operate after July 1st on the budget that the town approved earlier this month until they pass a new one.