Millinocket Residents Vote for the Third Time on School Budget
Millinocket residents are voting on Tuesday for the third time on a 6.3 million dollar school budget plan.It’s the same budget voters have already turned down.”This is ridiculous. This is the third time we’ve voted on the same exact budget. How many times do we have to tell a town council we don’t want it?,” said Michael Jandreau, who just finished voting. But some town council members say the budget they’ve proposed is necessary.”From the town side, we’ve cut over $801,000 from last year’s budget, so we’ve done our job on the town side and we’re looking for the school to help us out. This town is in a serious problem right now in cash flow,” said Millinocket Town Councilor John Raymond. The School Board pushed for almost $300,000 more in their budget recommendation, but it’s the council that sets the level of funding.”Just because they want us to do that, doesn’t mean we can afford to do that educationally. Our job in education is to educate the kids and not to do it, not in a minimal way, but to do it so that the kids will walk out of here with a good education and compete in a world class environment,” said Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Smith. The superintendent says if this budget is approved, it will affect students, possibly more program and staff cuts, but others say the school can make cuts that won’t affect the kids.”There’s places to cut on the administrative side as well as other departments, for example busing, that we could make some drastic changes where it won’t hurt the kids education. Again, I have two kids in school, I don’t want to see their education hurt at all,” said School Board Member Matthew Farrington. While both side’s proposed budget won’t raise taxes, the town says their budget is more financially responsible for the future.Emotions ran high for voters entering polling booths for the third time in just a few months.”There’s so many things that are being cut, positions and performing arts are being cut now and we really need an appropriate amount for our budget to get the things that we need here at Stearns High School,” said first-time voter Stephanie Decker who just graduated from the high school. “One thing the people have to understand is that both of us (he and City Council Chairman John Davis) are taxpayers in this community and we have an obligation. We not only want to see the kids get a good education, the best education we can afford, but we also have a commitment to the retirees of the community,” said Raymond.