Franklin Countys First News

School board advances $37.1 million budget to voters

FARMINGTON - The Regional School Unit 9 school board unanimously voted to send a $37.1 million budget to the voters next month, as well as approving two other associated articles for the May 28 meeting.

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.

In addition to setting the date of the district budget meeting, on May 28 at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Blue Campus, and the June 11 validation referendum, directors agreed to include two new articles on this year's meeting warrant.

Voters at the May 28 meeting will 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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4 Responses »

  1. Gets Popcorn. Can't wait for the comments. School budget always controversial. 4.4% is steep.

  2. And just like that, another million dollars is added to the budget . No accountability at all for the outrageous taxes we pay in Maine !

  3. People going to start voting with their feet. Bye, bye.

  4. Did you folks go to the last meeting? Will you attend the next meeting to voice your concerns?