RSU 3 proposing $19.4 million 2014-2015 budget
Regional School Unit 3 board members passed a proposed $19.4 million budget for the 2014-2015 year.
The budget, which totals $19,417,500, represents a 1.03 percent, or $198,500, increase over the current year budget. Superintendent Heather Perry noted in a press release that local assessments will increase approximately $135,000 due to a decrease in state subsidy and an increase in the required local minimum mill expectation from 7.69 to 8.07.
That increase in the minimum mill expectation equates to a 1.95-percent increase in the local assessments to the 11 towns that comprise the district.
Article 1, which addresses regular instruction costs, increased by $76,000 in the proposed budget. That increase is due to the addition of foreign language software for grades 6-12 and to contractual salary and benefit increases.
Special education costs, listed under Article 2, also saw an increase of $39,700, which was attributed to an increase in out-of-district placement costs for students.
Article 3, career and technical education, increased $59,161. Perry stated the figure did not represent an actual increase in Waldo County Technical Center costs, but instead reflects the fact the district no longer has any remaining funds to use from its 2011 Maine Public Employees Retirement System balance.
Overall, Perry said the actual increase in the WCTC budget was $7,000.
Costs for the other instruction budget, Article 4, decreased by $11,300 despite the addition of a middle-school summer-staff member, increasing the number of staff from two to three, and support for the Game Loft in Belfast and the Hactivate after-school programs.
The district saved $5,400 by cutting the indoor track program at the high school.
Article 5, student and staff support, increased by $68,991, due to the addition of one elementary library/media educational technician III and the continuing phase-in of laptops for the incoming freshmen class.
The district also eliminated a part time educational technician III due to a change in programming for a 504 student. A 504 student receives special accommodations that are typically due to a medical condition, Perry said.
System administration, Article 6, increased by $14,600. Perry attributed that increase to her secretary working an additional one hour per day, from six hours to seven, and to higher insurance costs.
Perry said the school administration costs, Article 7, also increased by $44,200. The increase reflects higher insurance costs, the addition of a Restorative Justice Program at two more elementary schools and an in-service day training for district secretaries.
Transportation and buses, Article 8, decreased by $69,900 due to continued savings from switching to a single bus run.
Article 9, facilities and maintenance, increased by $6,900 due to increases in salaries and benefits.
Article 10, debt service, decreased by $29,852 because of lower debt service payments for the Mount View Complex.
Finally, Article 11, all other expenditures, did not see any changes. The line item includes a local contribution of $50,000 for the district's School Nutrition Program.
Perry noted that the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget is $400,000 less than what the district spent in 2008-2009. Furthermore, since 2008, the district's enrollment has decreased by 126 students in grades K-12, and the district has eliminated more than 28 positions in RSU 3.
Overall, Perry said the budget reflects the desire of board members to balance the needs of the students with what taxpayers can afford. She said, however, board members are particularly frustrated with the funding support from the state.
Due to budget constraints, she said some programs the district would like to implement, such as providing iPads for third graders, were not funded in the budget proposal.
A district-wide budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at the Mount View Complex.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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