Friday, December 6, 2013
By Susan McMillan email@example.com
SOMERVILLE — The budget for Regional School Unit 12 narrowly passed on Tuesday, which Superintendent Howard Tuttle said will allow the district to focus fully on the new school year.
“It’s very exciting,” Tuttle said. “It was a vote for our students, and now we can move forward and provide the best education possible.”
Unofficial results show that voters in RSU 12’s eight towns approved the $26.4 million budget 765–745. They had voted down a slightly larger budget, of $26.5 million, in June.
Tuesday’s results were similar to June’s in that both times Alna, Westport Island and Wiscasset approved the budget, while Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville and Windsor rejected it. This time, however, Whitefield switched from “no” to “yes.”
The vote on the budget was 26 yes and 11 no in Alna, 56–119 in Chelsea, 32–37 in Palermo, 15–44 in Somerville, 72–18 in Westport Island, 88–76 in Whitefield, 83–90 in Windsor and 393–350 in Wiscasset.
The pattern reflects uneven tax increases resulting from a new cost-allocation method that voters approved last year. After a three-year transition, every town in the district will pay the same amount per student, but in the meantime that will mean larger tax increases for towns that have paid less per student in the past.
The approved budget will lower taxes in Westport Island by $28 per $100,000 in valuation and raise the tax on the same valuation by $28 in Alna, $58 in Chelsea, $95 in Palermo, $66 in Somerville, $59 in Whitefield, $139 in Windsor and $12 in Wiscasset.
The inequities both before and after the cost-sharing change have led to efforts in Wiscasset, Westport Island, Palermo and Windsor to withdraw from the RSU.
The budget, as approved, eliminates 1.5 secretarial positions and an assistant special education director at the central office. The food service director will be cut by one-quarter time and the assistant superintendent will go from full time to half time.
Personnel reductions in the district also include 3.5 educational technicians, 6.1 teachers, a social worker, a half-time assistant principal and a half-time science coach.
Middle school foreign language, available at three schools, will be cut as well.
Classes started Sept. 3. Tuttle said that with an approved budget in hand, the district can proceed with buying supplies for the year and filling four support staff positions that were vacant because of a temporary hiring freeze.
Susan McMillan — 621-5645