Searsport and Stockton Spring voters made quick work May 30 of 19 articles that comprise the proposed 2018-19 school budget. The 25 residents who attended the session in the Searsport District Middle/High School cafetorium approved the $10,283,978 budget, which represents an increase of $28,330 year-over-year.

In a letter to voters, Regional School Unit 20 Superintendent Chris Dowling said the higher figure is due, in part, to an increase in the music program, extension of his work days to 183 from 156, and an increase for a K-5 social worker.

A redesign of the administration also impacted the board's budget recommendations. In the upcoming school year, grades K-seven will now have a dean of students who will also serve as attendance coordinator, and grades eight-12 will have a dean of students who will also serve as the athletic director.

New for this budget year is a change in funding for Waldo County Technical Center, which will come directly from the state of Maine. The applicable line of the proposed budget lists 'Career and Technical Education' with a proposed amount of $0 for that reason.

Another change made by the Department of Education is that food costs will no longer be shown as 'All other expenditures" but instead will have a separate warrant article.

"Those are changes not made by RSU 20 but made by the state of Maine and the Department of Education, and they also follow the recommendations of Drummond Woodsum, which is our legal authority," Dowling said.

The meeting wrapped up with Dowling honoring five retiring RSU 20 staff members.

John Williamson, who is the assistant principal and athletic director, is retiring after 38 years in education. Food service staff member Bonnie Clark will retire after eight years of service. Special education teacher James McGinn is retiring after 16 years in education, and high school guidance counselor Carol Fuller, who was in attendance and received a round of applause, will retire after 13 years in that role.

"Carol, thank you… and I know I'll pay for that," Dowling said.

Residents will take to the polls June 12 for the budget validation vote.