Directors reduce SAD 61 budget impact, use $100,000 to cut town taxes

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Although SAD 61 managed to piece together a proposed budget that is up less than 1%, Superintendent of Schools Al Smith was a little disappointed when he broke the news that Bridgton taxpayers were still looking at a $326,255 increase.

Bridgton’s picture became a little rosier Monday night.

During a public hearing on the proposed $29.9 million budget (up .93%), the superintendent announced that the school board agreed to take $100,000 from the undesignated fund to reduce town taxes.

The end result:

Bridgton (36.07% share of the budget) dropped from $326,255 to $277,288

Casco (23.54%) dropped from $79,815 to $67,884

Naples (26.11%) dropped from a decrease of $48,553 to $111,335

Sebago (14.29%) dropped from a decrease of $85,334 to $92,950.

Bridgton’s hike was the result of its valuation and an increase in its student population.

Meanwhile, Naples’ tax figure dipped dramatically, partly due to the fact that the town does receive some state aid, while the other three SAD 61 towns do not.

Another piece of good news is that Superintendent Smith will be meeting with top Maine Department of Education officials regarding inequities in the current funding formula, with the hope of finding ways to prevent SAD 61 from being penalized each time more money is added to the state’s educational coffers. Smith noted that when the Legislature added $15 million to state education aid, SAD 61 actual sees its aid number fall when distribution figures are refactored under the current finance formula.

A few budget highlights presented by Superintendent Smith included:

• The Leadership Team (school/program administrators) proposed a needs-based budget, which included $676,038 in new staffing. After reviewing the budget, the Finance Committee accepted about $150,000 in new staffing.

• State subsidy is expected to decrease by about $55,000 in 2016–17.

• There will be a separate warrant article to add $250,000 to the Capital Reserve account from the undesignated fund balance as the district prepares to address several projects (parking at the middle school, entry to Songo Locks, and resurfacing of the high school track) in upcoming years.

Smith said the goal is to be able to fund the projects without having to add to the budget and push town taxes up. By adding the $250,000, the account will reach about $480,000.

Smith and the school board received just a few questions regarding the budget, including one from Phil Lowe of Sebago, who serves on the town’s Budget Committee, regarding whether the district is correctly following state guidelines as to the amount of undesignated fund balance being carried forward.

He cited a Maine statute regarding how much unallocated balances school districts can carry forward, while using the excess to reduce town school taxes. Lowe suggested that SAD 61 officials should consult with Maine DOE to be sure the district is in compliance.

“Thank you for all the time and effort all of you put in as school board members,” Lowe added. “I am sure most of us have no idea of all the meetings and workshops that you put in.”

The district budget meeting is set for Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lake Region High School gym. While voters will put their final stamp on the proposed budget on Tuesday, May 31 by going to the polls in their respective towns for the “validation referendum,” they will also be deciding how SAD 61 will decide budgets in future years.

Voters can either stay with the current process — attend a district budget meeting and then cast a final vote at the validation referendum — or discontinue this practice and simply hold a district budget meeting where all matters are decided that night (much like town meeting).

A “yes” vote keeps things the same.

A “no” vote ends the validation referendum step.

In other school board meeting news:

Laker Pride — It was standing room only in the Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center Monday night as the school board honored students and staff selected to receive Laker Pride Awards.

The following were honored:

Sebago Elementary: Jullian Wilson, Grade 5, nominated by Mrs. Champoli; Ella Newcomb, Grade 4, nominated by Mrs. Willey; Drew Johnson, Grade 3, nominated by Mr. Bridge-Koenigsberg; Brian Harmon, Grade 2, nominated by Mrs. Harmon; Cole Arthur, Grade 1, nominated by Mrs. Willey; and Violet Easton, Kindergarten, nominated by Mrs. Bennett. The staff award went to Eileen Mains, nominated by Randa Viitala.

Songo Locks School: Rachel Lake, Grade 5, nominated by Betsy Mayo; Abigale Pomerleau, Grade 4, nominated by Jaime Fontaine; Meadow Tierney, Grade 3, nominated by Kimberly Nielsen; Kimberly Stiffler, Grade 2, nominated by Kim Flanagin; Ava Cole, Grade 1, nominated by Diane Geiser; Lillie Orlowski, Kindergarten, nominated by Devon Fitzgerald. Staff Award to Shantelle Roberts, nominated by Adalynn Peterson.

Stevens Brook: Madison Richard, Grade 5, nominated byAmity Prado; Tyler MacKaye, Grade 4, nominated by Laura Varney; Jackson Libby, Grade 3, nominated by Miranda Walker; Olivia Smith, Grade 2, nominated by Colleen Craven; Jayden Cote, Grade 1, nominated by Kathleen Grossi; Layne Collins, Kindergarten, nominated by Amanda Doherty. Staff Award to Riley Gilbert, nominated by Lily Santamore.

Lake Region MS: Brianna Sargent, Grade 6, nominated by Team Cadillac; Emmitt Herrick, Grade 6, nominated by Team Kibby; Cierra Grover, Grade 7, nominated by Team Kineo; Sophy Anderson, Grade 8, nominated by Katahdin Team; Carter Hall, Grade 8, nominated by Team Sugarloaf.

Lake Region HS: Christopher White, Grade 9, nominated by Erik Good; Thomas Noble, Grade 10, nominated by Ali O’Connor; Melody Millett, Grade 11, nominated by Laker Pride Academy; Ina Guzja, Grade 11, nominated by Linda White; Jay Justason, Grade 12, nominated by Marilea Bannon; Christopher Shanks, Grade 12, nominated by Scott Nye. Staff Award to Christina Piland, nominated by Erik Good.

Staff Awards: John Mayo, LRVC, nominated by LRVC staff; Al Archambault, Bus Garage, nominated by Andy Madura; Keara Lynch, Special Education, nominated by Lisa Caron.

Personnel: Patricia LaFontaine was approved as an administrative assistant at Lake Region Adult Education, replacing Darlene Perry, who resigned. There were nine applicants, three were interviewed.

Linda Mitchell was approved as a bus monitor, replacing Amy Whitten. There were two applicants, one was interviewed.

Patrick Martin will be a long-term substitute science teacher, replacing Jessie Toohey. There were five applicants, one was interviewed.

Deborah Pyne-Young will resign at the end of the school year.

Kristia Merriam resigned as an Adult Education teacher, effective March 17.

Evelyn Johnston resigned as a K-2 educational technician at Stevens Brook Elementary effective March 17.

Edward Stevens resigned as a Special Education teacher at Lake Region High School, effective at the end of the school year.

Jeffrey Brundage, a Grade 3 teacher at Stevens Brook who is on a leave of absence for 2015–16, will not return.

Rick McConkey will retire as Head Custodian at Songo Locks School, effective April 8.

Nancy Laurent, a permanent substitute at Lake Region Middle School, resigned effective March 31.

Donations: Potter Trust donated $1,375 to be used to purchase DigiBlocks; Maine Math and Science Alliance donated $200 to be used toward the Family Engineering Night; Adobe ConnectED donated software licenses to the three elementary schools — approximate value $51,000.


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