Tax reform could hit SAD 34 hard in the pocketbook, and Superintendent M. Robbins Young is bracing for a fight.

The General Purpose Aid for Education estimates released last week showed the district losing more than $700,000 in state funding next year. Even though the Legislature will pay a larger percentage of school costs across the state, both SAD 34 and SAD 3 will get less.

That’s because the GPA formula rewards districts with the lowest valuations and highest enrollments. In SAD 34, valuations have risen and enrollment has declined.

Young and SAD 3 Superintendent Dan Lee met Thursday with Waldo County legislators to protest the findings and request copies of the data and formulas that went into making the determinations.

It was difficult enough to stomach the SAD 34 reductions, said Young, let alone the SAD 3 cuts. “Understanding that SAD 34 has a stronger tax base than SAD 3, which is entirely rural,” Young explained, “when I saw Dan taking a loss, I said, ‘Something’s wrong here.'”

Based on the disparity between the two districts, along with the overall disparity statewide, Young said there’s simply something wrong with the basic model used to make the allocations.

The baseline estimates of educating students are off the mark, Young said, as are transportation figures, special education disbursements and the additional moneys allocated to support teacher salaries.

Young said he wants to examine the state’s formula and possibly mount an official protest. “If we have a chance to challenge the model results,” he said, “I think I might find some areas where they used inaccurate data, and I’ll challenge the findings. “

The state has promised transition money to help the soften the blow to affected districts, ensuring at least flat funding, but basic cost-of-living increases mean last year’s budget won’t cover next year’s expenses, Young said.

“It would mean that we would get the exact same, or close to the same number of dollars we got last year, but no increase,” said Young. “So I would still be out $600,000 in anticipated growth. I’d either have to go out there and find another $600,000 locally, or I’d have to find that in cuts, or a combination of the two. That’s a morale buster.”

“We’re going to try to maintain the status quo in the district this next year,” Young said. “We’re going to try to maintain our staffing and our programs, and we’re going to bust our butts to do it. We’ll find a way to do it.”