April 06, 2020

Lubec residents to vote again on school budget

LUBEC – Residents will meet this evening to vote on a single lingering warrant item for the school budget that they already have rejected three times since June.

Eighteen other warrant items for the SAD 19 budget – for the Lubec Consolidated School, the only school in town – previously passed.

The sticky one calls for the district to appropriate $207,659.44 for the office of the superintendent and the board of directors for the fiscal year that began July 1.

School board members are prepared to cut $1,743 from that amount once one of them makes a motion to amend the article at the meeting, at 7 p.m. at the school cafeteria.

After three tries to pass the full $207,659 amount failed, the school board last week sent out surveys townwide to see what the 1,500 residents want. There were 88 responses through Tuesday.

A vote on the $207,659 appropriation fell short at an Aug. 8 meeting with 88 voting yes and 92 voting no. At a Sept. 20 meeting, the article also failed by a vote of 38 yes to 76 no.

“The surveys came back and there are definitely some issues with some of the people being unhappy with the superintendent or the school board, because we made cuts in areas that were not very popular,” said Diana Wilson, one of the five board members.

“But with funding being reduced from the state, we didn’t have a choice.”

SAD 19’s total school budget is $2,233,845. That is 3.2 percent lower than last year’s budget of $2,305,350.

The item that won’t pass involves $144,639 designated for the superintendent’s office, and another $63,020 designated for the SAD 19 board of directors.

The five directors are paid $800 collectively.

Most of the balance of the board of directors line item is dedicated to insurance for the school as well as liability coverage for board members. A number of lawsuits against the school, going back to the 1990s, have kept the district from qualifying for lower insurance rates.

The office of Superintendent Michael Buckley costs $144,639 to run, or about $4,500 less than last year’s amount.

Of that, Buckley’s salary for his three-days-a-week contract is $55,000. The salaries for him and two secretaries have been frozen since last year.

Buckley did not want to be quoted about SAD 19 budget matters.

“This is a school board issue,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not my issue.”

Like every other school in the state, Lubec Consolidated School has an Oct. 15 deadline to report its enrollment figures to the state.

Asked for the current numbers, one school board member said there are 169 students; the superintendent said there are 175; and an employee in the superintendent’s office said there are 180.

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