SAD 3’s proposed budget for the coming school year was approved at a lightly attended public budget meeting May 26, and now awaits a second vote at the polls June 8.

The budget has a bottom line of $19,378,600. That number, according to school officials, represents a decrease of $427,400 — or 2.16 percent — from last year.

According to Superintendent Joe Mattos, board members were able to reduce the budget’s bottom line by that amount by making the following changes to the budget:

• reduction of four K-5 teaching positions, one part-time school administrator, one school secretary, three half-time positions (a foreign language teacher at Mount View Middle/High schools, a half-time math teacher at MVHS and a half-time English teacher at MVHS), one special education teacher, four educational technician positions, $28,000 for grades 7-12 athletics, one bus driver, $10,000 in contingency funds, and school field trips, supplies and equipment district-wide.

• elimination of the high school substance abuse counselor’s position and the Morse School late bus run.

• delaying the Morse School roof renovation ($60,000) and the replacement of various K-12 computers.

School officials fielded a variety of questions from the audience during the approximately hour-and-a-half-long meeting, which was held in the Mount View Elementary/Middle School gym, ranging from how much money the district was carrying forward from the previous year’s budget to how the pre-Kindergarten program is funded. Many of those in the audience were either school district employees or municipal officials.

Most of the 19 articles passed easily on show-of-hands votes, with little or no opposition. Several of the articles required voting to be done by secret ballot, and the closest margin was on article 14, which asked for $1,176,654 in additional local funds — a figure that exceeded the state’s Essential Programs and Services model by $870,198. The vote on that article was 34 in favor, and 9 opposed.

In the district budget booklet, school officials outlined their reasons for needing to go above and beyond the EPS funding model. The key issue, which factored into a couple of the specific reasons, is that school officials feel the EPS model was not designed with rural districts such as SAD 3 in mind.

One article that did not receive any opposition from the audience was article 16, which asked if voters would authorize the district to expend “federal stabilization funds” — better-known as stimulus money — and any other grant money the district might receive in the coming year.

District officials estimated SAD 3 will receive $363,991 in federal stabilization funds for the coming school year, a number that is built into the $19,378,600 bottom line.

After article 19 was approved, moderator Ron Price asked for — and quickly received — a motion and second to adjourn the meeting.

“All those in favor, you may rise,” quipped Price.

The next step in the budget-approval process is a budget validation referendum vote, which will take place in the 11 district communities Tuesday, June 8.

On that day, SAD 3 residents will vote on a simple yes-or-no question: Do you favor approving the SAD 3 budget for the upcoming year that was adopted at the public budget meeting? According to the district’s budget booklet, “The decision on the budget will be determined by the total ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ votes cast across the district.”

If the district-wide vote is affirmative, then the budget will be approved. If not, the budget will come back before residents at another public budget meeting and they will vote on the individual articles again. That meeting would be followed by another validation referendum, and the process would repeat as necessary until a budget is finally approved.

Additionally this year, voters will be asked if they want to continue the two-step budget-approval process, which was ushered in along with the school consolidation law several years ago. Previously, the budget-approval process consisted of just the public budget meeting.