RSU 20 budget sails unchanged through district meeting

Voters keep recommended $10.1 million budget intact
By Ben Holbrook | Jun 06, 2017
Photo by: Ben Holbrook Regional School Unit 20 directors cast ballots in favor of a budget article during a May 31 district meeting.

About 50 voters breezed through a 19-article Regional School Unit 20 warrant May 31 without making any changes to the board recommended $10.1 million budget for 2017-18.

The $10,097,616 budget for next year represents a 0.54-percent increase, or $53,756, in expenditures over the current year's budget. Searsport will see a 2.78-percent increase in its local share, while neighboring Stockton Springs' portion of the bill will increase 3.84 percent. Business Manager Dhyana Blanchard said the state calculates the district has a per-pupil cost of $15,048. She noted that figure is not calculated by dividing the district's total budget by the number of enrolled students.

Currently, there are 513 students enrolled in the district.

Reductions in the budget include eliminating a school bus, changing a half-time maintenance position to a contracted service and nixing a Head Start fee. Also, Superintendent Chris Downing recommended reducing his full-time position to three days per week.

That recommendation was made to save the district money and because Downing believeS many day-to-day issues that crop up can be handled by other administrators.

There a few additions to the budget, including a day treatment program and an alternative education program. Currently, the district does not have an alternative education program of its own, but can send students to Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education. However, such an arrangement would require paying tuition to RSU 71, Downing said.

Despite projected increases in local taxes, voters were largely silent as they approved the first 16 articles on the warrant without discussion and without proposing any amendments to the recommended funding amounts.

The only questions posed to district officials and board members came near the end of the meeting when residents asked whether RSU 20’s portion of the Waldo County Technical Center budget is included in the $10.1 million figure, or if it requires additional taxpayer funds.

Officials explained that the district’s share of the technical center’s budget is included in the 2017-18 budget. The technical center also serves students in RSU 3 and RSU 71. Another resident asked how many people from Searsport and Stockton Springs are enrolled in adult education courses offered through the technical center.

Downing said he did not have specific town-by-town enrollment figures, but said the courses that are offered are usually filled to capacity. He also noted that any fees associated with the programs are paid by students.

The last article approved by voters gave district officials the authority to use any additional state subsidy received after the budget is approved. Officials have indicated if the district receives more state funding than it is projected to that money will be used to reduce local assessments.

A final referendum vote to approve the budget is scheduled for June 13.


About 50 voters attended the district budget meeting. (Photo by: Ben Holbrook)
Comments (4)
Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Jun 07, 2017 12:17

I agree about an average being an average.  Maybe a union leader for the teachers union can share a proposal on how they plan of fighting the online movement that is destroying brick and mortar life style.  Families learn to live larger and larger parts of their lives without social face to face interactions.  You mentioned the rural costs involved and just as the brick and mortar stores closing.  Society is growing faster and faster to "online shopping"  How long before teaching becomes "online"?  The schools will close as the local economies will reach a tipping point where closing is the only option.  Just like Macy's, Kmart, Sears is not far behind, nor is JC Penny.  As these brick and mortars can't compete with online stores.  The teachers unions will be unable to compete against IBM's "Watson"!  If you have a choice of having a super computer teach through Ipads vs a teacher still living back before the turn of the century.  Who is more knowledgeable?  Thus the only need for schools would be a building like the YMCA where sports and social interactions can be taught.  The library to teach the arts. Completely eliminating the needs of "schools" as we know them today.  Sort of like someone back in the 60's saying Sears is so big they would never fail.  Ever hear that phrase before?  The bigger the schools get, the larger the budgets, the larger the payrolls........the faster the movement to change will occur.  The level of budgets today and the burden of the tax payers now.....How long before the "schools that are to big to fail" will fail?

Posted by: Harold Richardson | Jun 07, 2017 11:07

I understand that it's more expensive than normal around the mid coast.  Fewer kids for all the infrastructure, more busing etc.  I'm less bothered by the high taxes than the obfuscation with all of these budgets.  The super of Belfast says the average is not really a good measure.  This article says the average is not determined by dividing the total by the number of students-first time I ever heard that!  How about a follow-up question Ben to explain to us just why that is and what is what.  I'm willing to admit that I might be wrong but it seems like an average is an average and the way to get to that is pretty simple.  I bet if this area was below the state average we'd hear about it.

Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Jun 07, 2017 04:12

Harold........It is the same math they teach the kids now, that the teachers are so proud of.  How to let the kids slide through school without being able to make change.  Dumb them down so they can keep fleecing the tax payers without them questioning how the numbers add up.  Your calculation is not figured in the new age math the teachers teach now! Your calculations are the old math when the teacher didn't have so many "in service" days where the teachers don't have to teach and can go out to lunch instead of staying in school to teach.


Look at the physical plants the children get to go to school in now!  How many tens of millions of dollars are being spent on brick and mortar schools now.  The teachers and administrators better figure out a new way to fleece because the brick and mortar schools are going to go the same way retail brink and mortar.  The kids will stay at home and learn via the internet just like they buy clothes now.


Remove the budget dollars for the brick and mortar and what is the cost per child?  Those 10 and 20 million dollar buildings need to be heated ,etc.  Remove all the costs and online is the new wave of the future on how to teach students.  Just think, no buses, no buildings to spend money on.  Just a fraction of the teachers needed.  Then online schooling will lead to one room school houses costing $100,000 in stead of adding another zero!  Funny how history repeats itself.

Posted by: Harold Richardson | Jun 06, 2017 16:23

If you take the budget and divide it by the 513 students it comes closer to 20k per student.  Please explain why that is not the correct way to figure the per student average.  It's a 2.3 million dollar difference.  What is the proper way to find that number?    

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