SAD 61 proposes 2.3% increase; hearing Monday

SUPERINTENDENT Alan Smith met with Bridgton and Casco selectmen Tuesday, highlighting the proposed budget. Budget timeline Monday, March 30: Public hearing on the proposed 2015-16 SAD 61 budget, 6 p.m., Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center. Monday, April 13: School board to vote on the proposed budget, sign warrants, 7 p.m., Great Room, LRVC. Tuesday, May 12: District budget meeting in the Lake Region High School gymnasium, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26: Budget Validation Referendum, vote at polls in Bridgton, Casco, Naples and Sebago, beginning at 8 a.m. Town tax figures Bridgton EPS local contribution: $7,2400,444 Additional local: $1,831,255 Adult Education: $123,908 Total local contribution: $9,195,607 Increase: $59,389 Casco EPS local contribution: $5,208,416 Additional local: $1,163,983 Adult Education: $78,758 Total local contribution: $6,451,157 Increase: $165,002 Naples EPS local contribution: $6,014,299 Additional local: $1,344,083 Adult Education: $90,944 Total local contribution: $7,449,326 Increase: $66,738 Sebago EPS local contribution: $2,300,426 Additional local: $723,810 Adult Education: $48,975 Total local contribution: $3,073,211 Decrease: $62,361 The numbers Article 2: Regular instruction, $9,961,713, up $423,997 Article 3: Special Education, $5,125,357, down $18,996 Article 4: Career and Technical Education, $1,488,948, up $87,488 Article 5: Other Instruction (summer school, co-curricular, extra-curricular), $492,232, up $42,499 Article 6: Student and Staff Support (guidance, nurses, library/media, technology, student testing), $2,756,361, up $140,766 Article 7: System Administration, $825,722, down $33,153 Article 8: School Administration, $1,371,432, up $74,822 Article 9: Transportation, $1,738,163, up $107,515 Article 10: Facilities and Maintenance, $3,143,514, down $89,710 Article 11: Debt Service, $2,163,274, down $39,430 Article 12: Community Use/Food Service/Capital Reserve, $100,000 General Fund Budget Total: $29,166,716, up $655,798, 2.3% increase • Initially, the district’s Leadership Team recommended a budget of $29,676,038. • The proposed Adult Ed budget is $624,370, up $40,355. The local share would be $342,585, up $22,970. • Projected budget figures as of March 23

SUPERINTENDENT Alan Smith met with Bridgton and Casco selectmen Tuesday, highlighting the proposed budget.
Budget timeline
Monday, March 30: Public hearing on the proposed 2015-16 SAD 61 budget, 6 p.m., Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center.
Monday, April 13: School board to vote on the proposed budget, sign warrants, 7 p.m., Great Room, LRVC.
Tuesday, May 12: District budget meeting in the Lake Region High School gymnasium, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 26: Budget Validation Referendum, vote at polls in Bridgton, Casco, Naples and Sebago, beginning at 8 a.m.
Town tax figures
Bridgton
EPS local contribution: $7,2400,444
Additional local: $1,831,255
Adult Education: $123,908
Total local contribution: $9,195,607
Increase: $59,389
Casco
EPS local contribution: $5,208,416
Additional local: $1,163,983
Adult Education: $78,758
Total local contribution: $6,451,157
Increase: $165,002
Naples
EPS local contribution: $6,014,299
Additional local: $1,344,083
Adult Education: $90,944
Total local contribution: $7,449,326
Increase: $66,738
Sebago
EPS local contribution: $2,300,426
Additional local: $723,810
Adult Education: $48,975
Total local contribution: $3,073,211
Decrease: $62,361
The numbers
Article 2: Regular instruction, $9,961,713, up $423,997
Article 3: Special Education, $5,125,357, down $18,996
Article 4: Career and Technical Education, $1,488,948, up $87,488
Article 5: Other Instruction (summer school, co-curricular, extra-curricular), $492,232, up $42,499
Article 6: Student and Staff Support (guidance, nurses, library/media, technology, student testing), $2,756,361, up $140,766
Article 7: System Administration, $825,722, down $33,153
Article 8: School Administration, $1,371,432, up $74,822
Article 9: Transportation, $1,738,163, up $107,515
Article 10: Facilities and Maintenance, $3,143,514, down $89,710
Article 11: Debt Service, $2,163,274, down $39,430
Article 12: Community Use/Food Service/Capital Reserve, $100,000
General Fund Budget Total: $29,166,716, up $655,798, 2.3% increase
• Initially, the district’s Leadership Team recommended a budget of $29,676,038.
• The proposed Adult Ed budget is $624,370, up $40,355. The local share would be $342,585, up $22,970.
• Projected budget figures as of March 23

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Before Superintendent Alan Smith rolled up his sleeves and started work on his first SAD 61 proposed budget, he informed his leadership team of a philosophical shift.

Instead of administrators putting together “wish lists,” they were asked to develop a “needs” lists.

“Obviously, we approached developing a budget that addresses the educational needs of our children, yet is also sensitive to our taxpayers,” Superintendent Smith said. “There is no ‘fluff’ in this budget.”

Initially, the Leadership Team recommended a budget that was up $1,165,120 over a year ago, which represented a 4.1% hike, but after some trimming and adjustments, the proposed package calls for a 2.3% increase, up $655,798.

“We started at $0, took a look at our programs, considered if there were things that we could do without or eliminate in exchange for something else that was more of a need,” Smith said. “I was very pleased with the way the process went. We created a budget with no frills. I am also amazed with how well our communities support education, especially in wake of declining state aid and municipal revenue sharing.”

A public hearing on the proposed 2015–16 SAD 61 budget will be held this coming Monday, March 30 at 6 p.m. in the Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center.

Superintendent Smith met with Bridgton and Casco selectmen Tuesday night to provide an overview of the proposed budget, and will hold similar meetings with Naples (April 6 at 7 p.m.) and Sebago (April 7 at 6 p.m.) town officials.

Some highlights

This time around, SAD 61 will catch a few financial breaks, which helped land a slight overall increase.

One, the district initially budgeted for a 13% increase in health insurance premiums. Last week, Financial Coordinator Sherrie Small received word that the “highest” increase would be 5%.

Anticipating hiring a full-time math teacher at the high school (due to a growth in the student population — Small noted that over the past three years, 19 positions were cut at the high school level), extending the music program by a half position, and the likelihood of other hirings to fill vacant posts, the district will fund the line at a 9.5% increase (a savings of $60,000 from the early projected 13% hike) to cover those expenditures.

Secondly, SAD 61 will see a boost of $400,000 in state aid based on the number of economically-disadvantaged students (those eligible for free or reduced lunch) and Special Education costs, Small said.

The district is a year away from making its final payment on the Songo Locks School modular, and four to six years out from paying off Stevens Brook, along with the middle school addition/high school athletic complex renovation bond.

Looking ahead

With an eye to the future, the school board has included two items to address upcoming needs.

One, a separate warrant item will ask voters to approve the purchase of three to four acres directly behind Songo Locks School. Directors held a handful of executive sessions over the past few weeks discussing the possible purchase and negotiating a price, ultimately set at $70,000. Those funds would be taken from the undesignated fund line, which is presently at about $2 million (Small pointed out that of the $2 million, $850,000 is “designated”).

Songo Locks School’s well is located on the targeted property. Superintendent Smith noted that purchasing the property would give SAD 61 space needed to address a variety of issues. It does not mean the school district is planning to place an addition to the facility there, Smith said.

Directors voted 10–2 in favor of the land acquisition, Board Chairman Janice Barter said.

Presently, an engineering firm is developing a report regarding existing conditions at elementary schools in SAD 61, and will offer recommendations regarding how the district should proceed in the future. Parking and traffic flow are major concerns at Songo Locks.

The school board decided Monday night to put the acquisition question as a separate voting item, and not include it within the proposed budget. So, when taxpayers go to the polls on May 26 for the validation vote, they will receive two separate ballots, one for the budget and another for the land purchase.

Knowing the high school track will need to be resurfaced in three to five years (estimated cost: $250,000), the district will look to put aside $100,000 into the capital reserve account this year.

“We would like to put money away now so when the project needs to be addressed, we have the money to do it and not have to ask for taxpayers to pay for it in one big chunk,” Smith said.

Director resigns

At Monday’s board meeting, Barter announced that Casco Director Paula Grace had resigned.

 

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