Regional School Unit 22 voters rejected the district budget at referendum June 13, sending it back to the drawing board for the first time in nearly two decades and leaving school officials wondering if it was too high or two low.

The budget failed by a vote of 637-710 and was rejected by three of the district's four towns.

The roughly $30.9 million bottom line represented a increase of 0.25 percent from the current year. Had the increase been larger, district officials might have felt a clear mandate to cut.

Further complicating the question of what to do next, Superintendent Rick Lyons said voters sent mixed messages prior to the referendum.

At the district budget meeting June 8, Lyons said voters reinstated two teaching positions that had been cut, for an increase of $126,000. They then reduced the administration budget by $42,000 for a net increase of $84,000.

"So the question that's difficult to answer is why the budget was not supported by voters," Lyons said. "Was it too high, or was it too low? You really don't know."

Lyons said low voter turnout could have been a factor. The last time voters rejected a budget at referendum was in 1998, he said.

The RSU 22 board of directors is scheduled to discuss the budget at its June 21 meeting. The district budget meeting must be held within 45 days of the referendum. Lyons said a date has not been set.

RSU 22 budget yes no
Frankfort 26 18
Hampden 272 319
Newburgh 124 126
Winterport 215 247
Total 637 710