The Regional School Unit 71 board of directors will give a final review to the 2017-18 budget April 3 and set final figures the following week.

Superintendent Paul Knowles said costs in the five-town district are up about 5 percent, owing mostly to increases in salaries and benefits costs. Revenues have yet to be factored in, he said, and state funding could shift the bottom line in several months when the final numbers are approved by the Legislature.

The RSU 71 board typically has a public comment period, though Knowles said the amount of discussion about the budget will be up to the board.

The board meets again April 10 to officially set the budget. From there, it goes to a public budget hearing in May, and to the polls for a final confirmation referendum in June.

High school renovations to start this summer

Renovations at Belfast Area High School will start this summer with an overhaul of the pool and kitchen, along with installation of new boilers and other energy-efficiency improvements.

Plans to rebuild the math wing will go out to bid in January 2018 with the goal of completing the work by spring 2019. New locker rooms will be constructed between April 2018 and the start of the next school year in September. The cafeteria will also be redone by that time, Knowles said.

Last step of the $7.6 million project will involve moving the central office from its current location on Waldo Avenue into the the high school where special education classrooms are today.

Knowles said construction will proceed during school hours. He likened it to the addition of the high school's art wing, built a decade ago at a cost of about $2 million.

New faces on the RSU 71 board March 27 included Belmont Director Stephen Hopkins, who was elected March 20, and interim Morrill Director Joyce Scott. Student representatives on the board, Zachary Sheafe and Kristina Walker, also attended.