Franklin Countys First News

$18 million budget approved for RSU 73

Moderator Ronald Aseltine leads approximately 50 residents through the warrant.

JAY - Residents of Livermore, Livermore Falls and Jay moved quickly through the Regional School Unit 73 budget meeting warrant Thursday evening, approving $18 million in expenditures for the next fiscal year. A validation referendum scheduled for June 13 will allow voters to decide whether or not to implement the budget.

The $18,054,637 budget includes a $745,000 reduction as compared to the current fiscal year, or 3.9 percent. Cuts include a total of 12 open positions via either attrition or retirements, as well as other funds pulled out of transportation, operations, legal fees, supply lines and a technology repair budget. Also proposed to be cut is roughly $30,000 associated with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a regional accreditation association.

In total, Superintendent Kenneth Healey said in a brief presentation that led off the meeting, the school board had approved $1 million in reductions, allowing the district to exceed its goal of a 3 percent total reduction despite more than $300,000 in contractual salary and benefit increases.

The budget would impact course availability and classroom sizes, Healey said, but he felt the reduction was "responsible" given the local economic climate. Directors and administrations, as well as residents speaking at meetings, have repeatedly referred to Verso Androscoggin Mill's recent layoffs and the multi-million dollar valuation settlement that required Jay to pay $1.33 million to the mill for three years.

At the request of Healey and the board, two articles were successfully amended. Article 1: Regular Instruction was increased by $47,070 to $7.55 million at the cost of an identical reduction coming out of Article 5: Student and Staff report. Those motions simply moved the purchase of textbooks into the Regular Instruction lines.

Other than those motions, there was little discussion from the 50-plus residents in attendance. The motion to approve $2.4 million in additional local funds, which legally requires a written ballot, passed by a vote of 47 to 7.

One motion was made in regards to Adult Education, attempting to amend the local appropriation of $150,000, $50,000 from each town, down to $120,000, or $40,000 from each town. That would match the current fiscal year's appropriation.

Speakers in favor of the $150,000 amount, which included Chair Denise Rodzen of Livermore Falls, pointed to the layoffs at Verso as a reason to expand the program. Specifically, the Adult Education program wants to provide additional support for those seeking to improve their grasp of mathematics or other classroom disciplines prior to seeking to take college or other secondary education classes. The program's College Transitions courses can provide that springboard.

The amendment for $120,000 failed by a voice vote and the $150,000 appropriation passed.

The actual impact of the budget on local assessments will remain an unknown until the Legislature's budget deliberations determine how much state subsidy school districts will receive. At present, utilizing the figures associated with Governor Paul LePage's budget, Jay would see a significant reduction in its Essential Programs and Services contribution, while Livermore and Livermore Falls would see increases.

Jay's successfully applied for a "sudden and severe" adjustment to its valuation, due to recent events at the Verso Androscoggin Mill. That reduction in valuation, along with the $745,000 reduction in expenditures, is currently projected to result in approximately an $862,000 assessment reduction in Jay.

Livermore and Livermore Falls' assessments, however, are projected to increase; Livermore by approximately $107,000 and Livermore Falls by approximately $150,000, per the most up-to-date projections. While the proposed budget's expenditures are less than those of the current fiscal year, the district cannot call upon the $1.2 million in unassigned funds it used last year to help fund the 2016-17 budget. Instead, the budget will include $200,000 in unassigned funds garnered through a budget freeze that began in September.

There will be a budget validation vote on June 13, the day of the statewide referendum, in all three towns. That vote will allow residents to either approve or reject the action taken at the May 18 meeting.

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13 Responses »

  1. The headline to the story is misleading as the vote by the property tax payers ( not the teachers union ) will be held on June 13, 2018. I have not spoke to one person in my neighborhood ( Beans Corner ) who is voting in favor of the school budget.

  2. SunJournal mentioned the motion to lower Adult education funding was from JUDY DIAZ.
    What kind of selectwoman tries to cut money for the education program in this town helping our mill workers? I can't count how many times I read about RSU73 adult ed. in the paper this year. Seems clear its worth the money.
    Glad most people at the meeting had common sense to pass this budget.

  3. This was a school board meeting. Open to the public. Who's fault is it if the majority of attendees were school employees? They're also taxpayers, I might add. Much as you might dislike it, RSU employees are a big part of our local economy.

    Who's to blame if the only people showing an active interest in the school committee process are RSU employees? What do you think that says about how much education is valued in our local community? I think it's sad that the keyboard warriors will be out in full force this morning but very few of them actually commit the time to becoming an active participant in the process.


  5. The RSU 73 Adult Ed program a great community program worth every penny. Shame on any selectman/selectwoman that would try and vote this SMALL contribution down.

  6. I feel the school board and all the school employees that helped the budget be reduced by $750000 should be commended. The $300000 increases to salary contract requirements is where you/we should be distraught. There are 4 contract negotiations going on at this time and discussing with your school board members and going to school board meetings to make sure they understand the need for reductions in the contractual costs is imparative to rain in the out of control parts to the school budget. Thanks everyone involved for helping get the reductions that you achieved.

  7. I applaud any selectperson for striving to lower the tax rate in the town of Jay -- and Livermore and Livermore falls for that matter. They were only attempting to cut 10K per town to be raised from taxation. It was never stated that the adult ed budet had to be cut. If the money was cut from taxation, then I believe it would be up to the program to either find additional grant money, increase the basic cost of each course, or find other means to save money.
    Not easy to ask tough questions in this type of setting, where most were school employees. We should be encouraging more discussion, rather than crucifying those who are trying to think outside the box.

  8. Amanda, taxpayers don''t go to the school board meetings because they are loaded with employees of the school department and if anyone speaks against the huge amount of money that is being spent to give our children a mediocre education they are ridiculed and ostracized. God forbid if one has a child in school because there is hell to pay for them. It is supposed to be a secret ballot for all voting in Jay but that is not the case for the school budget being set. It is one big feeding troth for folks working 180 days a year and getting paid for a whole year. Don't criticize people for not being there as it doesn't do any good. All we can do is vote when the secret ballot comes out.

  9. I feel that most people in town will be voting this budget down. Probably because the only things they have cut from the budget directly impact students. What superintendent with the best interest of our kids approve a budget that cuts teachers and adds to the transportation budget. No one seems to being held responsible for so much mismanagement of this single department. We have way more on maintenance than we need to. When you have 3 or 4 people sweeping sand it is ridiculous! It is my understanding that we have paid for a program that can best utilize our buses and drivers by putting together the best routes to save money!! Why are we not using it? There is so much wasted time in this department anyone can see. Well I take that back it seems the school board and administration can not see it. When this budget is voted down it is my suggestion that the transportation budget should be the first to take cuts. And that the head of our system maybe should get out and see all the butt time that we are paying for!!!

  10. Teachers,teachers, teachers. Are these the ONLY people who work for the school dept.? 180 days a year plus the extra hours with parents, workshops, class prep, let alone putting up with kids that parents cant wait to get rid of for the day. Not a job I would take.There are many other positions in the system that pay extremely well for the amount of work required of them with out 20 years of student loans to repay. I agree that these meetings are difficult to attend, but get out and vote. You can complain , but very few listen.

  11. NELL, it is your kind of thinking or mental attitude that causes defeat. If those citizens concerned about the amounts in the different areas of the school budget got their friends, neighbors, relatives, and spouses to go to the budget meeting, and your group out numbered the school employees, you could amend each article's money amount to your liking. If only 50 school employees were there, all you would have needed would have been 51 taxpayers to CHANGE the numbers. Then at the referendum vote, vote it in with a YES vote,if your numbers again are more than the employees and concerned parents. Good luck at the validation vote, but remember, because it passed, your vote is a NO if you want it to go back to the board for more cuts.

  12. If RSU 73 can lower their budget by 3+ percent why can't RSU 9?

  13. Jay Taxpayer, So you say that there is a lot butt time around the schools, I agree, not just transportation and maintenance either. You should ask the Administrator why they haven't cut much out of that line? See what the answer would be?? and as for 3-4 people picking up sand... you are not a fan of employees working together to get the sand picked up by graduation? if the employee that falls under that line did it alone it would probably take much longer to clean. Also we don't have the help of the town sweeper to pick it up, which the first year of consolidation was at a price of $1700.00 for a couple hours of sweeping just the roadways mind you.( oh and does the school charge the town to use anything at RSU73?? Good question. Maybe instead of bitching about seeing 3-4 employees out there working. See what they are using, all hand equipment, cordless shovels and rakes. It takes a little longer but the help received I am sure is appreciated. if your administrators are going to continue to run things as is... you should be looking at them with fine tooth comb. Don't pick on the little guys all the time. I am sure they still make less than the mill workers do... But that's right it ok if they make 25,30,40 per hour just no one else is suppose to make that much. It is to bad that School Board can't look at the big picture and plane and simple get ride of the Admin that is no longer effective in this day and age. Big Companies do everyday. You have to want to make a difference. If not this is what you will continue to get.