The financial forecast for Regional School Unit 20 is looking increasingly grim as the board of directors begins its work on a 2014-15 budget package that is already showing a 5-percent overall increase in its preliminary stages.

At its regular meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 25, at Belfast Area High School, directors got a preview of the money situation, first from Superintendent Brian Carpenter, who delivered a cautionary message regarding state subsidies.

Carpenter said the district has yet to receive its ED 279, the report stating the amount of state money the district can expect to receive for the coming budget year, but after speaking with local legislators about the outlook for the state budget he learned the news was not favorable.

"The money picture is not looking good," said Carpenter.

Finance Committee Chairman Tony Swebilius said at the conclusion of the the committee meeting, which took place prior to the board meeting, the preliminary budget figure was set at $35,204,777. Swebilius said that amount represents an overall increase of 5 percent more than the previous year.

"This is subject to presentations from the department heads," said Swebilius.

Swebilius said those presentations are scheduled to take place at upcoming budget workshops, which are set to begin Wednesday, March 12. More detailed information on the workshop dates, times and locations will be posted at the district website in the coming weeks.