Unanimous vote sends package to residents on May 30

Rockland-area School Board gives OK to budget

By Stephen Betts | May 19, 2017

Rockland — The Regional School Unit 13 Board gave unanimous backing Thursday evening to a $26.9 million budget that the superintendent said allows the district to meet its long-term goals.

Residents of the five communities can attend a public forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at Oceanside High School auditorium to vote on whether to accept the board's proposed budget or make changes.

Residents in the five communities will then vote at the polls in each community Tuesday, June 13, on whether to adopt the budget supported at the May 30 hearing. If approved, the budget goes into effect July 1. If the budget is rejected, the process starts anew, leading to a subsequent hearing and referendum.

Absentee ballots for the June 13 budget vote will be available after the May 30 meeting.

Superintendent John McDonald said the budget includes six additional positions. These will support a growing population of students receiving special education services, serve the Freshmen Academy at Oceanside High School and provide an additional second-grade teacher at the Gilford Butler School.

The superintendent said 353 students in the district will be receiving special education services -- about one in four of the entire RSU 13 student population.

The $26.9 million budget for 2017-2018 represents a 3.6 percent increase in expenses from the approved 2016-2017 budget. But the tax impact has been limited to 2.5 percent on average for the district.

The increase is due to the first year of debt payment for school construction projects. The debt line in the budget is proposed at $930,335, up from $391,781 in the 2016-2017 budget.

The superintendent said, however, despite the increased debt cost, the non-personnel side of the budget declined $25,000 because of efficiencies such as closing schools. The district will be moving out of the McLain School this summer and turning it over to the city.

"The money has been reinvested," the superintendent said, into education programs.

"We have been sensitive to the tax impact," McDonald. "The Schools of Our Future is going forward."

The amount each municipality in RSU 13 will have to pay varies based on the number of students from those communities, as well as the towns' state valuations.

Rockland will see a 2.4 percent ($209,112) increase, with the city's share reaching $9,005,486 for 2017-2018.

Thomaston will experience the largest percentage increase at 5.6 percent ($217,133), bringing its payments to $4,069,279.

Cushing will pay $3,202,465, up 5.4 percent ($164,208).

Owls Head will pay $2,720,608, up 1 percent ($28,609).

South Thomaston will pay $2,682,931, down 3.4 percent ($93,090).

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