Regional School Unit 22's Board of Directors on May 11 adopted a $30 million budget for the 2016-17 school year.

The total budget is $30,081,235, which represents a 1.8-percent increase over the current year's budget, and an increase in the local share of 2.8 percent. District officials attributed much of the budget increase to higher special education costs as a result of an influx of about 40 special needs students over a two-year period.

On the other hand, the district was able to reallocate money budgeted in anticipation of an increase in health insurance premiums — $211,000 — to lower, slightly, assessments to towns and pay for other district expenses.

If approved, Frankfort's local assessment would be $813,284.60. Hampden's assessment would be $6,291,420.26, and Newburgh would contribute $1,055,312. Winterport's share would be $2,578,119.58.

During previous meetings, residents and town officials raised concerns regarding how contingency is reported in the budget. Starting about 10 years ago, contingency funds were included in individual line items, but following comments that such a practice lacked transparency, board members and district officials said future budgets will more clearly show how those funds are being used.

In a statement posted on RSU 22's website, Chairman Niles Parker addressed how the district budgets contingency into line items such as utilities and fuel. The intent of contingency, Parker said, is to cover any unforeseen expenses that could have a negative impact on spending and future budgets.

The projected contingency for the 2016-17 budget is $300,000, which represents about 1 percent of the total budget. He noted the contingency in the current year budget was used to pay for the addition of 1.5 teaching positions because of higher student enrollment, unanticipated retiree payments, the addition of two educational technicians because of an increase special education enrollment and two long-term substitute teachers.

Before voting on the budget, Parker expressed frustration with the state not funding public education at a voter-mandated 55-percent level and how that impacts school districts in towns.

“It is time the board, local municipal officials, and community members of RSU 22 advocate together to ensure the state legislature begins funding districts at the 55-percent level outlined by state law and/or reduce the number of unfunded mandates, and that our municipalities should receive the increased level of revenue-sharing our towns deserve,” Parker said. “We cannot continue as a state to use tax shifts and divisive policies which are designed to pit local taxpayers against one another. We cannot continue to increase costs while reducing revenue, thereby transferring the burden of state funding cuts to our students, families, and residents.”

Directors then unanimously approved adopting the proposed budget.

A district budget meeting is scheduled for June 9 at 7 p.m. in Hampden Academy's gymansium. The referendum vote will be held June 14.