We all received the Regional School Unit 3 2022-23 proposed budget. The public budget meeting will be on Wednesday, May 25, at the Mount View Complex; the referendum vote will be Tuesday, June 14, at the Freedom Town Office.

Total K-12 enrollment dropped from 1,052 students in 2021-22, to 1,020 in 2022-23. This enrollment decline and a lower expected mill rate means a $525,122 decrease in state funding.

Despite this student enrollment decrease, staff cuts, and extra-curricular cuts, the total budget increased by $240,000, from about $20.3 million to $20.5 million. So how does the budget propose to offset lower income and higher expenses? Primarily higher local taxes — RSU 3 member towns’ local tax assessment will rise by $744,122, or 8.45%. Interestingly, Freedom’s local assessment is in the top tier of town increases, $54,216, or 8.7%. I wonder how many students Freedom has in the K-12 system.

The district also proposes to build a $1.8 million (maximum) “operations center” to replace the bus garage. According to the proposal, “the (current) bus garage is out of compliance and in poor condition. The new Operations Center will provide a suitable, safer, and more efficient facility to service our fleet.”

Please come to the May 25 public budget meeting and express your thoughts on this budget. There is far more to it than what I have summarized here. I encourage you to consider that we have only reviewed the Board of Directors’ work product. The directors have much more probative insight into this budget than any of us. I trust them to craft a responsible budget, and would need some sort of egregious breach of that trust to think otherwise and vote accordingly.