LUBEC – Residents passed a controversial school budget item – for the office of the superintendent and the board of directors – on their fourth try Thursday night.
The $2.2 million budget for single-school SAD 19 passed in full back in June, but the one item that troubled the voters focused on costs for the superintendent’s office.
With a vote of 56 yes to 37 no, residents appropriated $203,716.44 to fund two cost centers, the office of Superintendent Michael Buckley and the board of directors.
Going into the evening, the article that had three times failed – in June, August and September – called for an appropriation of $207,659.44.
The board proposed a modest reduction by $1,743, and another person’s amendment lowered the amount by $2,200 more.
But one of the town’s selectmen then proposed a symbolic cut of $55,000 – the very amount of Buckley’s salary.
Buckley in his second year has drawn the ire of residents for different reasons. He was not at Thursday’s meeting at the Lubec Consolidated School to hear the budget discussion.
Selectman Arthur Glidden proposed the $55,000 reduction.
“It sends a message, whether it passes or fails,” he said.
His idea – to amend the article amount to $148,716.44 – failed by a vote of 36 yes, 58 no.
But it got people thinking.
Striking $55,000 from the budget would not bring about Buckley’s departure, because Buckley has a contract with SAD 37 through June 2008, some pointed out.
The district would have to pay Buckley $55,000 this year regardless of whether he came to work three days a week, as his contract calls for, or not.
The impact instead would be that, if the budget were $55,000 less, that amount would have to be cut from other cost centers because $55,000 would remain dedicated to paying Buckley’s contract.
Once the residents returned to voting on an amount of $203,716,44, William Daye, chairman of the selectman, spoke about keeping Lubec’s kids in mind.
“These children have a rough enough time as it is,” Daye said. “I don’t fully agree with spending this amount, but I do feel strongly that the kids need the absolute best we can give them.
“If this is what the school board feels they need, I support it. But I support it for the kids.”
One person sought to learn the comments that residents had written when 88 of them returned a survey circulated by the school board last week. Those will be available at the directors’ meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, those in attendance were told.