Committee adopts $3 million budget for 2017-18Contract signed with new superintendent
Northport — School Committee members April 11 adopted a nearly $3.1 million budget for next year, and also signed a contract with the district's new superintendent.
The $3,073,317 budget represents a 1.6-percent increase over the current year's $3,025,488 budget. Superintendent Judy Lucarelli attributed the increase to hiring an eighth-grade teacher, negotiated raises and an uptick in insurance rates.
Northport is also a "low subsidy receiver"; initial estimates indicate the town will see yet another reduction in state aid. Early projections show the district will receive $57,058 in state subsidy, down from $76,111 received last year.
Edna Drinkwater awarded grant
The Natural Resources Council of Maine awarded the school's science classes a grant to help foster more engagement in environmental sustainability.
Grant funding will help pay for grow lights for the aquaponics lab in the school's newly built geodesic dome greenhouse. As part of the project, students are raising goldfish in their classroom and then move on to raising tilapia in the greenhouse.
NRCM did not disclose the grant amount.
Fish waste will be used to fertilize herbs that were planted in flats indoors under LED grow lights.
“The project aims to make students more aware of the importance of student and community engagement in nature, as well as the role they play in sustainability and the environmental health of Maine,” NRCM said in a statement.
Edna Drinkwater was one of eight middle schools awarded grant funding.
However, Lucarelli said she believes the Legislature will address the state subsidy question and it is possible Northport could receive more funding than is projected. The problem, Lucarelli said, is that it is unlikely school officials will know how much state aid the district will receive until after the budget is presented during the June 5 town meeting.
With that in mind, voters will be asked to approve an article at town meeting authorizing School Committee members to spend any state funding received in addition to what is projected. That money would otherwise be carried forward and be available to use when crafting the 2018-19 budget, the superintendent said.
Regional School Unit 3 has taken a similar approach with state funding in recent years because there is often uncertainty about subsidy amounts. Any additional state subsidy the district receives is used to lower town assessments in that district.
Committee members voted unanimously to adopt the proposed budget.
Starting July 1, Judith “Judy” Harvey will succeed Lucarelli as the district's superintendent. Harvey, who currently is employed in Regional School Unit 1 as an assistant superintendent, was selected from among a pool of numerous applicants because of her experience and flexibility.
Per the terms of her contract, which is structured largely to mirror the one governing Lucarelli's employment, Harvey will be paid $500 per day for no fewer than 80 days. The contract runs from July 1, 2017, until June 30, 2020.
In other business:
Committee members awarded a bid in the amount of $81,500 to JARR Management Inc., which is based in Augusta, to replace the roof on the older section of the school.