Franklin Countys First News

RSU 9 budget to be set at May 28 meeting

FARMINGTON - Voters will decide on $37.1 million in proposed expenditures at the Regional School Unit 9's district-wide budget meeting at Mt. Blue Campus on Tuesday, May 28 at 7 p.m.

The $37,125,036 budget for 2019-20 is the same that was presented to residents at the April 9 public forum. As proposed, the budget represents an $1.58 million or 4.44 percent over the current fiscal year.

With an additional $1.07 million in state funding for the district, the budget would result in a local tax increase of $36,050, or .27 percent over the entire district. The biggest reason for the increase to state funding is RSU 9's climbing enrollment, with an extra 59 students bringing additional funding into a district that added 118 students in the previous two years.

Specifically, if the budget passed as proposed, Chesterville would see a $8,723 increase, or .83 percent; Farmington would see a $50,102 increase, or 1.05 percent; Industry would see a $8,695 increase, or .94 percent; New Sharon would see a decrease of $3,201, or a reduction of .31 percent; New Vineyard would see an increase of $21,846, or 2.94 percent; Starks would see an increase of $17,989, or 3.88 percent; Temple would see an increase of $7,347 or 1.73 percent; Vienna would see an increase of $8,559 or 1.19 percent; Weld would see a decrease of $27,352, a reduction of 5.22 percent; and Wilton would see a decrease of $56,657, or a reduction of 2.01 percent.

Historically, local assessments decreased by 2 percent in 2016-17, decreased by 2 percent in 2017-18, increased by 6.25 percent in 2018-19 (the current fiscal year) and the proposed budget would increase the local assessment by .27 percent this year.

Expenditures were reviewed by administrators and then a budget committee made up of school board directors prior to being presented to the entire board. Increases include adding a currently-active Cape Cod Hill School teaching position to the budget, having previously funded the position out of contingency this year, a half-time social worker position at Mt. Blue High School, a two-day-a-week nurse at W.G. Mallett, increasing a secretary position at Mt. Blue Middle School to full time and a behavioral ed tech interventionist and a quarter-time social worker at Cape Cod Hill School.

The budget encompasses altering the Pathways for All Learners program for grades 3 through 5, with services going into schools rather than pulling students out of their buildings to a central location. The proposed change would hire a social worker and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst instead of a Special Education teacher and three ed techs; the additional cost to the district is estimated to be $15,000 to $20,000.

The K-2 program, operating out of Mallett, would continue working as designed.

Two buses would be purchased if the budget were approved as presented. The combined cost to the district for both buses would be $51,000 on a $206,000 purchase thanks to the Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement, which would pay the bulk of the cost. Facility improvements would include safety upgrades such as cameras, doors, Americans with Disability Act playground equipment and traffic studies at Cascade Brook School, MBMS and MBHS.

The budget also includes 2.5 percent increases in salary for teachers and 5 percent for support staff.

More information on the budget can be found here by clicking on the "Mt. Blue RSD Budget Information 2019-2020" link. This includes budget presentations and documents, as well as video from the budget meetings

The Franklin County Adult Education budget is proposed to increase from $398,000 to $423,000. The impact on the local allocation is an increase of $7,818.

Voters at the May 28 meeting will also decide whether the district should join the newly-created Western Maine Regional Service Center, built off of the preexisting Western Maine Education Collaborative. Joining the service center would allow the district to recoup $104,000 in lost state subsidy while engaging in the collaborative efforts already ongoing between the WMEC schools.

Another article on the warrant would provide the district with voter permission to spend additional state funds received after the budget meeting. Those funds could be used for additional programming or used to reduce the local education assessment.

That article relates to an issue that occurred last year where the district received additional funds for the Foster Regional and Applied Technology Center but couldn't spend them due to a lack of voter approval. Those funds will be used this year to support Foster Tech programming, as Career and Technical Education funding is now separate from the rest of the budget.

The district budget meeting will be held on May 28 at 7 p.m. in the Bjorn Auditorium at the Mt. Blue Campus. The June 11 referendum will be held in all 10 towns.

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20 Responses »

  1. Shocked that negatives are not posting yet.

  2. This is the reason I moved out of this district!!!!!

  3. Some will look at the RSU 9 Budgets listed below as positive...some as negative. You decide.
    Lucky for our property taxes that we're getting an extra million from the State this year.
    Budgets by years in millions
    Year Budget
    2009-10 $24
    2010-11 $22
    2011-12 $25
    2012-13 $29
    2013-14 $30
    2014-15 $31
    2015-16 $32
    2016-17 $32.7
    2017-18 $33.6
    2018-19 $35.5
    2019-20 $37.1

  4. You were the first, Bud.

  5. MAHK good to know. Lindy see you at the meeting on Tuesday you can speak your mind there. There is a few things I don’t like in the budget but the rest seems reasonable and is needed. Look at the stories about kids doing good and you can clearly see not everything in the district is negative and the money is pretty well spent for the most part.

  6. To Awwww.....And the reason for going to the budget meeting (where every year all the RSU 9 employees overwhelm the auditorium and vote the budget in) would be ????????????

  7. Lindy, interesting breakdown. To be honest I'm surprised the increases are so low over the course of a decade. When did the district build the new Elementary and HS? Looking at a couple small town budgets both 10M+ like Madison and Anson that both have their own districts with three school buildings I think MSAD9 must be keeping it very fiscally conservative or even undercutting to please the property taxpayer. Our district serves 8 towns with three times the student population than both of the for-mentioned combined and yet we pay about 1/4 the cost. if each town had their own school district it would cost each town 10m+ so logically our combined budget would be more like 80M to fund a thriving educational experience for our communities. Humm. Also wondering why you insist everyone at meetings is an employee of the district. I think you are looking to start fake news. But lets suppose the majority of people voting at a meeting are district employees that would also indicate that they are local taxpayers with the right to vote on such issues. Let's stay within the lines of a functioning Constitutional Democracy here and stop trying to disrupt the rights of others.

  8. So you can have things explained and you can complain in person. If you want to run your mouth online do it at the meeting in person. Maybe you have some ideas on how to save money and can explain it. The meeting on Tuesday is where we the people have our voices heard and can either raise or lower cost lines. You should be willing to do something if you are so concerned about taxes. Like I said I don’t like everything in this budget. See ya at the meeting

  9. Interesting that you think million dollar a year increases are sustainable in this rural low economy area. (The best jobs around here are the hospital, the college, and RSU 9. There aren’t many businesses.) The incomes of many of the citizens aren't increasing in pace with school spending. Increases in social security are practically nil and there are a lot of retirees. One of the first things said about this budget to support it is that 'your property taxes aren't going up'. The only reason that is, is because the State has been paying in more money every year. Wouldn't it be nice if one year, rather than the school spending the additional money from the State, they used that extra money to give the towns some relief so our taxes actually went down. Instead, State funding increases have been looked upon by the school as an opportunity to spend more. Then they emphasize the 'no tax increase' and the budgets pass. But what happens when things change and the State starts paying less money to the schools? Property tax payers are the ones that will have to make up the difference and the budgets will be way up there. Of course, we all want the best schools, but our schools have to be what we can afford.

  10. I am not a "naysayer". I say approve all the requests.

  11. Check the live-streaming of past budget meetings and you'll see who was present. Many school employees, mostly teaching staff will be recognized. This has been the norm for many years. Of the 150-200 usually at the meeting most were District #9 employees. There was one exception when the budget was not approved a few years back.It didn't make it through the validation process ,one reason being students were utilized to protest before the vote.

  12. Please see above article:. Two out of the last three years property tax bills to the town's went down due to increase support.

    Please see Social security cola...it's about nine times bigger than the requested increase to the town's.

    As far as jobs go:. Check out the unemployment rate....it's quite low..

  13. Bud, you may not be a naysayer but your first comment was negative.
    Jpublicus, I guess it would depend on which town you were referring to in regards to the Social Security cola rate being nine times larger. Certainly not Starks, proposal increase 3.88 percent, Social Security coal increase 2019
    2.8 percent.

  14. Bjb:. All town's combined of course, since it's a district wide assessment. Starks would be much higher if still with their previous district, right? And their students would have less options.

  15. Billy the town of starks knew that was going to happen when they left Madison (not totally). They are paying to send kids to both school districts and they have a debt due for a school over that way.
    Lindy the million a year only covers guaranteed pay increases for teachers and other contractual people. If you don’t want an automatic increase you could ask every employee not to accept their raises. Also you are going o want to contact the new guvna and ask she not increase starting pay for teachers to $40,000 and also not plan on stop paying what they do now because she has already started on that.

  16. Jpublicus, sorry, I misunderstood your wording. When you explain it like that I now feel like I have won the lottery.
    Awww, thank you for the information.

  17. Lindy
    Do you have the enrollment # to coincide with each of the budget years that you posted?

  18. For the past few years, we have been given the total the state claims we can run this district at a bare minimum. I believe they call it the essential programs and services. The question should be what is that figure, and then how much beyond that do we want to spend.

  19. To Jpub…

    The average retirement social security check in Maine in 2018 was $1314 ($15,768 per year). Maine is the second from the bottom for being the lowest state in the country. Certainly any increase in benefits to these folks should go to RSU 9.

    Regarding drop in property taxes:
    The tax assessments to towns which is the amount of money the towns have to pay to RSU 9, dropped slightly for a couple of years. I can say with confidence that this happened only because at the time, the school was getting a lot of pressure from a citizens’ group about the high budget and high property taxes. Those tax drops were slight and we have since resumed the climb.

    For 2012-13 the towns had to pay RSU 9 $ 9.8 million.
    2013-14 they paid $10.7 million.
    2014-15 they paid $12.3 million
    2015-16 towns paid a little over $13.24 million.
    **In 2016-17 it dropped to $12.9 million
    **In 2017-18 it dropped to $12.7 million
    In 2018-19 it climbed to $13.49 million.
    In this year's proposed budget, towns would have to pay $13,523,436.

  20. Thank you Lindy
    for confirming the reduction in taxes for two of the last three years.

    Please accept my apologies if you thought I meant any Social Security increase should go to the district, for I do not think that should happen. I was responding to what you had said about Social Security increases.

    Interesting though how you seem to consider a 2.8 Percent increase as too little, and .28 percent too much.

    I do believe seniors should see a real reduction in taxes rates for their homes, maybe the first $50,000 of home value not taxed. What do you think?

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