$27.1 million budget going to voters
Rockland — After nearly three hours of review May 1, the Regional School Unit 13 Board approved sending a $27.1 million budget on to voters.
Despite cutting several positions and approving a spending package that is approximately $123,000 less than this year, taxpayers will see a 4 percent increase because of less than anticipated revenues in carryover and a decreased amount expected in state subsidy.
A district-wide meeting to vote on the budget will be held Tuesday, May 27, at 6 p.m. at Oceanside High School East before being ratified at the polls June 10.
In total, property owners will be asked to contribute $23.5 million. If approved, Rockland taxpayers will contribute approximately $8 million, which is up 4.79 percent; St. George will contribute $4.4 million, up 6.83 percent; Thomaston will pay 4.93 percent more for a total of about $3.4 million; Cushing's share is up 6.1 percent for a total of $2.7 million; and South Thomaston will contribute $2.59 million, which is up 1.55 percent. Owls Head will see a 3.28 percent decrease, paying $2.48 million.
The board unanimously voted to eliminate one library/media position; the social work position at South School to be filled with an existing guidance counselor; an industrial arts educational technician position; one administrative assistant and one library ed tech at Oceanside High School West. In addition, they decided not fill an English position while the teacher is taking a semester-long leave of absence from Oceanside East. They also voted to take $88,207 from retiree savings to help reduce the budget.
A proposal to fill the Oceanside East principal position with an existing administrator was tossed out and the board instead voted to hire a new principal for East, have Susan Stilwell, current principal of Thomaston Grammar School and Owls Head Central School take over leadership of Oceanside West and Thomaston Grammar School and have Director of School Improvement Neal Guyer serve as interim principal in Owls Head, in addition to his other duties. Oceanside East and West Principals Tom Forti and Larry Schooley are both retiring in June.
In split votes, they chose to cut a fifth- and sixth-grade industrial technology position and to eliminate one world language position. An original proposal called for cutting two world language positions, which would eliminate the kindergarten to fifth-grade world language program.
World Language teacher Kathreen Harrison said she is seeing if there are Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants available to help in the classrooms. She said if the district is able to obtain two student teachers, at a cost of about $30,000, RSU 13 would have a model program.
The board voted to keep the business manager position after a proposal was brought forth to eliminate that job and replace it with a district accountant.
Interim Superintendent Michael Wilhelm said he anticipates a $100,000 overrun in the food service budget and suggested placing $170,000 into the account for the coming year.
"Your revenues are not meeting your expenses," Wilhelm said of food service, and suggested the board put the additional funds in the account and look at ways to reduce it in coming years.
He said there is hardly a district in the state that does not contribute to food service, but the situation in RSU 13 is "dire."
"It's not unique to RSU 13, but the severity is unique to RSU 13," he said.
Wilhelm, whose contract runs through the end of May, has agreed to stay with the district on a per diem basis through the end of June.
Board member Carol Bachofner, chairman of the superintendent search committee, told the board applications, which are being vetted through the Maine School Management Association, must be postmarked by Tuesday, May 20. MSMA will then review the applications and send suggested applicants onto the district.
Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.