Where the RSU 20 budget stands
On July 30 the voters of Regional School Unit 20 did not approve the proposed school budget. Since then, the RSU 20 Board of Directors and the Finance Committee have revisited the budget and worked to develop a new school budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that supports and balances the needs of the children and the wishes of the taxpayers. The continuing problem for education is decreasing State revenue. Since 2009, RSU 20 has experienced the loss of approximately a $2.5 million dollars in State subsidy. In the same time period, the local municipal mil expectation has risen from 6.69 mils in FY10 to 7.86 mils in FY14. Combine these two factors with increased operational costs and it becomes very difficult to create a budget to keep the cost of K-12 education at a level that satisfies all constituents.
The Finance Committee and Board of Directors have worked very hard since the referendum vote on July 30. The Finance Committee has conducted public forums for budget input, a web survey and have spoken with individuals about concerns with the budget. The result is a newly-proposed budget whose overall expenditure is down 0.21-percent from the proposed budget on July 30 and 1.93-percent below the 2012-2013 budget. This is only a 0.07-percent or $21,000 increase in expenditures. Even with these decreases in expenditures, the budget represents an overall tax increase of 10.18-percent.
The Board and Finance Committee made the hard decisions regarding programs and personnel. Cuts from the Local Funded Budget reflected in the proposed budget include:
- Four and a half teaching positions
- Two support staff
- One and a half library ed techs
- Reduction in food service
- Reduced maintenance
- Reductions in technology
- Middle school extra curricular stipends
- Supplies and professional development
- Reductions in central office administration and school administration
As a result of the public forums, web survey and conversations with individuals in their communities, the Finance Committee and Board of Directors restored to the budget the following:
- Restored one art position
- Restored the school resource officer
- Restored two library ed techs
The figures in the budget include the 50-percent for teacher retirement as approved by the Legislature. Along with this added expense is a loss in revenue with the departure of Frankfort, declining student population, costs associated the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, decrease in revenue from the state and increased health and property insurance.
Even with all these uncontrolled cost increases, the Finance Committee and the Board of Directors are presenting a budget where expenditures are down $578,000 dollars over 2012-2013. Continuations of cuts of this magnitude in the coming years are not sustainable. To continue to cut at this level will negatively impact the programs and education students will receive in the future. All members of the Board of Directors are aware that other measures need to be taken and as such, will look for alternatives.
RSU 20 will continue to provide an excellent education for all students. The focus is and will be to continue to improve the quality and excellence of the instruction and educational opportunities provided to all students as we move forward with innovative ideas designed to improve education and student performance. I want to thank all involved for their budget input. RSU 20 has excellent staff and support staff, and be assured they will continue their fine work for all students as we endeavor to pass the budget for 2013-2014.
If anyone has questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, please contact me.
Brian M. Carpenter is Superintendent of School for Regional School Unit 20.