2017-06-23 / Community

School budget approved; Board seats filled

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

Historically, the lower the turnout at the annual school budget validation vote in RSU 21, the higher the percentage of voters in favor of the proposed spending plan. That trend held true this year when residents weighed in June 13 on the district’s $45.8 million budget for 2017-2018 school year.

In the three towns of RSU 21 combined, 71 percent of voters approved this year’s 6.63 percent, $2.7 million budget increase. The final breakdown was 1,672 in favor and 684 opposed.

Meanwhile, the election spelled doom for school board incumbents in Kennebunk, Jeff Cole and Lionel Menard.

Tasked with choosing two candidates from a field of four, residents voted in favor of Rachel Phipps and Tanya Alsberg.

Phipps, a former town selectman, captured 1,010 votes, while Alsberg, owner of Kennebunkport knitwear shop JAK Designs, received 837 votes. Cole got 625 checks in his favor, while Menard trailed the field with 569.

With only one statewide bond question sharing ballot time, and no competitive race for local office in either Arundel or Kennebunkport, there was not much to act as a draw for those who did not have strong feelings, one way or the other, on the school budget.

Just 7 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Arundel, according to Town Clerk Simone Boissonneault.

The budget tally there was 173-72 — making it 70.6 percent in favor of the budget.

Kennebunkport more than doubled Arundel’s traffic, with 15.5 percent of its registered voters hitting the polls, based on numbers provided by Deputy Town Clerk Audrey Williamson. There, the RSU enjoyed its largest win by percentage, with 77 percent giving their assent, 329-98.

In Kennebunk, voters decided their annual municipal budget in the ballot booth. That, plus a four-way contest for two spots on the school board, and a competitive race for a spot on the Kennebunk Light and Power District Board of Trustees, made for the most robust voter turnout, at 17 percent.

According to the numbers provided by Town Clerk Merton Brown, 69.5 percent of voters were in favor of the RSU 21 budget, with the numbers breaking down at 1,170 in favor and 514 against.

The new school board members take office July 1, although their first meeting will not take place until August 7.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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