AUGUSTA

May 28, 2012

4 school districts meet on budgets this week

By Susan McMillan smcmillan@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Four local school districts have regional budget meetings this week.

At the meetings, district residents will vote on budget articles to go on ballots for district-wide referendums on June 12.

Hallowell-based Regional School Unit 2 and Gardiner-based RSU 11 will meet on Tuesday. Readfield-based RSU 38's meeting is Wednesday and Whitefield-based RSU 12 will meet Saturday.

RSU 2

The RSU 2 draft budget of $23.1 million is about $125,000 less than this year's budget.

Because of reductions in state and federal support, however, the local share of the budget is $300,000 higher.

For a home assessed at $100,000, that will result in a tax increase of $46 in Dresden, $33 in Farmingdale, $31 in Hallowell and $48 in Monmouth. Richmond residents would pay $4 less per $100,000 in home value, Superintendent Virgel Hammonds said.

The school board started with a budget hole of $1.2 million and came up with $900,000 in savings.

"The board was very cognizant of trying not to raise taxes," Hammonds said. "But they couldn't see cutting $1.2 million or more of services to our kids and staff."

The school board saved about $138,000 from cutting elementary school foreign language and a half-time nursing position at Hall-Dale schools.

Other major savings came from eliminating 2.5 teaching positions; reducing the capital improvements budget from $100,000 to $50,000; reducing Capital Area Technical Center tuition money by $40,000; cutting $50,000 in book purchases; freezing administrative pay for a third consecutive year; and replacing a retiring librarian with an education technician, which would save $40,000.

The regional budget meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday at Dresden Elementary School.

RSU 11

After the budget passed by only 14 votes last year, the RSU 11 school board charged administrators with creating a budget that would not raise taxes.

The $24.3 million draft budget is $506,000 lower than this year's, and only Randolph will pay significantly more in taxes, which is a result of the town's valuation rising more than three times the amount in the other communities.

The estimated tax impact, per $100,000 in valuation, is a reduction of $30 for Gardiner, $3 for Pittston and $2.50 for West Gardiner. Randolph residents would pay $27 more on a $100,000 house.

Seven teaching positions would be eliminated: one at Helen Thompson School, one at Pittston Consolidated School, two at River View Community School, one at T.C. Hamlin School, an education technician at Laura E. Richards School, a middle school special education teacher and a high school learning lab teacher.

RSU 11 has about 50 fewer students than it did a year ago, which contributes to a cut in state subsidy for the district.

The regional budget meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Gardiner Area High School gymnasium.

RSU 38

The district plans to save money by replacing some teachers with education technicians and reducing funding for co-curricular and extracurricular activities.

The $15 million draft budget in an increase of less than one-quarter percent from this year, but it passes a 4 percent increase in taxes to its local communities because of reductions in state and federal support.

Manchester would be assessed 5.5 percent more, Mount Vernon 4.5 percent more, Readfield 3.6 percent more and Wayne 0.9 percent more. Wayne's smaller increase is because of the town's small student population, Finance Director Brigette Williams said.

After a public outcry against restructuring RSU 38's four elementary schools, the school board chose to save money by eliminating teaching positions and increasing class sizes. Larger classes, especially in the youngest grades, will also have education technicians for support.

The board also eliminated one teacher at the middle school and replaced another teacher with an education technician.

(Continued on page 2)

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