ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland-area school board voted Thursday night to approve a $25.9 million budget that will increase local property taxes.

“We owe it to our youth,” Board Chairman Steve Roberts of Rockland said. He said students only have one chance to get a public school education and that it would be a disservice to cut essential programs even for a few years.

Vice Chairman Loren Andrews of Cushing said the district does not have a spending problem but a revenue problem.

The RSU 13 budget is down 5 percent from its 2014-2015 budget. The decline is due, in part, to the departure of St. George from the district. Andrews said the loss of St. George is taking $1.6 million away from the district and a change in state education funding means the district needs to raise an additional $800,000 to receive its state aid.

Board member Donald Robishaw Jr. of Rockland said that he cannot afford the additional $500 in property taxes he will have to pay. He also said the district has not held staff accountable for low test performance.

The budget was approved 5-4 with Roberts, Andrews, Noreen Mullaney of Thomaston, Nancy Jeffers and Carol Bachofner of Rockland voting for it. Voting against were Robishaw, Esther “Tess” Kilgour of Rockland, Ron Gamage of Thomaston and Christine Curtis of South Thomaston.

The board voted unanimously to add $300,000 from surplus to the budget to pay for building maintenance. Business Manager Peter Orne said the money was needed to replace the roof at Oceanside High School West in Thomaston ($80,000) and remove an oil tank at Rockland District Middle School ($50,000), among other projects.

The board debated at length whether to adopt a hiring freeze until the district consolidates the two middle schools and the two high schools. Robishaw said that with six teachers leaving, the district can save money.

Roberts criticized the proposal, saying it was a personal vendetta.

“I think this motion was made because certain board members didn’t get what they wanted on merging of the schools. This is a roundabout way to force the board to do something it hasn’t agreed to do,” Roberts said.

Robishaw and Kilgour said Roberts was out of line for his comment. The two board members had lobbied for the mergers to occur in 2015-2016 but the administration is planning for a consolidation plan to take effect in 2016-2017.

The budget will result in the elimination of three teaching positions at the middle schools because of reduced enrollment. Orne said no employees are expected to lose their jobs because of planned retirements and departures.

The proposed budget adds an assistant principal at the South Elementary School in Rockland, a gifted and talented program teacher, and a custodian to serve the South Elementary School and Rockland District Middle School.

Another proposed addition involves a pre-K program consisting of three classrooms, which would be paid for with a federal grant.

The budget also includes staff pay raises. The district has a contract with teachers for next year that provides an increase of slightly more than 3 percent.

Rockland will have to pay an additional $1.2 million in property taxes for the budget, Thomaston an additional $576,000, Cushing $430,000, Owls Head $295,000 and South Thomaston $197,000.

Residents of the five RSU 13 communities can have their say on the budget at a districtwide budget vote scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at Oceanside High School East’s auditorium in Rockland. Registered voters can make motions to cut or add to the board-approved budget.

Whatever amount is approved by voters at the May 21 meeting will go on the June 9 ballot for a “yes” or “no” vote at the polls in each community.