SAD 61: Area towns to receive rebate checks

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

SAD 61 towns will see a rebate check in the mail this June.

Late in the 2017–18 budget process, the state added money to education. Since many districts (including SAD 61) did not have an article in the budget warrant to address how those funds would be used, the state is requiring those districts to return 50% of those additional funds to the towns/taxpayers.

Finance Coordinator Sherrie Small said districts were encouraged to include an article on the budget meeting warrant so that school systems could access these funds if they, in fact, came to pass.

“We chose not to add this article since we are a ‘minimum receiver’ (of state funding) and we don’t usually get any extra monies,” Small said. “To keep it clean and because Sebago is not part of our budget next year, we decided to cut a check to each of the towns for their specific amounts. We will do this before the end of June.”

Amounts are:

Bridgton — $19,943.80

Casco — $13,761.94

Naples — $15,286.76

Sebago — $6,055.25

During Monday’s public hearing, Small opened the presentation (the Great Room at LRVC consisted mainly of school personnel and just two members of the general public) noting that the proposed 2018–19 budget is $29,044,708, which is a 3.2% reduction over the prior year.

The budget also reflects Sebago’s withdrawal from SAD 61. Sebago Elementary School’s budget for 2017–18 was $1,004,351.

Some notable facts:

  • Several positions were reduced — three currently unfilled or enrollment shifts; three retirements/resignations will not be filled; two positions cut due to Sebago withdrawal; and four positions currently being filled will be cut, but “will not have an impact on student instruction.”
  • State subsidy increased by about $2.5 million.
  • About $450,000 was lost for adjustments within the funding formula due to the Sebago withdrawal.
  • $30,288 was reduced for Sebago’s state portion of the Stevens Brook Elementary bond.
  • Special education costs went from 33% to 40% for an increase of $902,405.
  • A change in vocational funding brought SAD 61 $1,668,038.
  • Economically-disadvantaged funding increased by $552,791.

The end result, Bridgton and Casco will realize assessment decreases (B-$414,724 and C-$254,977) while Naples will experience a slight hike, $70,325, due to a change in state valuation.

The district budget meeting is set for Tuesday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m., in the Lake Region High School gym. The validation referendum is Tuesday, May 22, in all three towns normal polling places.

School Board notes

Tech future. When Kevin Murphy of Bridgton saw that the proposed budget cuts tech integrators, he wondered what direction SAD 61 is heading in regarding the use of technology in the classroom.

Superintendent Al Smith pointed out that integrators were needed when laptops were first introduced, but now, most staff are fully up to speed in how to use tech tools. Smith added that a support person still exists in each school, but facilities no longer need a full-time person dedicated to this function.

Murphy expressed concerns regarding inconsistencies that remain with Schoology. Smith admitted that greater accountability is needed amongst staff in their use of the software, and “kids do know how to get there, don’t let them fool you,” he added.

One tech change on the horizon is the phasing out of laptops and a switch to increasingly powerful tablets. SAD 61 currently outfits students from Grades 4 and up with personal computers.

Too early. Casco Director Phil Shane suggested that future budget hearings should be held at 7 p.m., much like the start of regular board meetings, to allow “working people” a chance to get home, change and attend. The hearing was held at 6 p.m.

Welcome to high school. What can eighth graders expect when they move up to Lake Region H.S. Student Atticus Slaughter gave his take on what needs to happen to be a successful ninth grader in an informational yet entertaining short video.

The video message was created as part of the Freshman Academy, and presented to eighth graders during “Step Up Day.”

“This was simply getting kids to think about communicating with each other,” LRHS Principal Erik Good said.

Dressing up the walls. After taking a trip to the Gulf of Maine Institute, sixth graders on Team Cadillac transformed a wall in their basement wing into somewhat of a fish bowl. The exhibit will be on display “for a while,” enabling the public to take a look at the creation, LRMS Principal Matt Lokken reported.

Getting a jump on college. High school students interested in pursuing a career in nursing can now get a jump both on college and earn some money.

Lake Region Vocational Center Director David Morse informed the school board that the school had reached an agreement with the University of Southern Maine to offer a Nursing 100 program, which upon successful completion, can earn local students’ college credit.

The program calls for a two-year cycle with Health Occupation I and Health Occupation II. Training will enable students to seek out CNA positions.

In talking about filling needs in today’s career world, Casco Director Phil Shane suggested that Morse somehow place an emphasis on encouraging teens to consider taking the fire science program. Shane pointed out that most area fire departments are in desperate need of volunteers.

Agricultural Fair on tap. Walter Ridlon, who serves as a Student Services coordinator, “goes about his job quietly,” but produces big things, LRVC Director David Morse said.

The next big thing is the Second Annual Agricultural Fair on Friday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To date, the fair has attracted 88 participants from a wide spectrum of the agricultural field from Alpaca Farm to Benson Farm Earth Products along with Fern Hill Farms (goat farm, cheese), Grandy Oats, Henry’s Bees, Highview Farm, Hood and Oakhurst Dairies to name just a few. There will be demonstrations in blacksmithing, chain saw safety and a portable saw mill, and guests including a wildlife biologist and WGME’s meteorologist Adam Epstein.

Morse said the fair is expected to draw over 850 students.

Football coach named. Directors approved the nomination of Mike Shea as the new varsity football coach. A Lake Region grad, Shea had been a member of the football coaching staff for the past six years, and served as defensive coordinator for the past five years. He succeeds Brian Jahna.

Athletic Director Paul True reported that there were 10 applicants for the position, and a committee interviewed five candidates. True said the committee approached interviews in two parts — one as a get-to-know the candidate as a person, and two, a focus on football philosophy. True said the committee spent about 12 hours interviewing, deliberating and rendering a selection.

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