The increased share Searsport and Stockton Springs are paying for the RSU 20 budget is partly due to declining state funding.
Searsport Elementary school is seen in this Feb. 27, 2018, file photo. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Searsport and Stockton Springs residents voted in favor of a 2023-2024 school budget despite it costing the towns around 14 percent more than the previous year.

Across both towns, Regional School Unit 20’s $11,200,146 budget passed with 170 votes in favor and 112 votes against.

Around 68 percent of Searsport voters approved the budget, but in Stockton Springs it was more contentious, with only around 54 percent voting yes.

The budget includes a 5.2 percent increase overall from the previous year, but, due to a reduction in state funding, the portion of the budget covered by towns increased sharply, officials said.

The two towns are expected to pay an additional $856,474 to fund RSU 20 schools, 14.5 percent more than the previous year. Searsport is responsible for $531,749 of that increase, while Stockton Springs will cover $324,725.

The bulk of the town’s increased costs come from a combination of rising land valuations and declining enrollment, which both result in reduced state school funding, school officials said.

The RSU 20 school board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to ratify the budget.

In addition to the budget, Searsport voters also participated in a runoff election for the vacancy on the town’s nine-seat Budget Advisory Committee after an unusual tie between two write-in candidates during the last election.

This time around, Jodi Reeves Eyre beat Gary Moore 65 to 40.

Braeden Waddell is a reporter covering Belfast and Waldo County. He grew up in Waldoboro and joined the Bangor Daily News in 2023 after working as an associate producer for National Public Radio. He graduated...