RSU 13 budget deficit reaches $1.7 million

Middle school merger, administration cuts proposed
By Kim Lincoln | Jan 02, 2014
Photo by: Kim Lincoln Superintendent Lew Collins, Finance Committee Chairman Donald Robishaw and Christine Curtis listen to public comments during a Jan. 2 committee meeting.

Rockland — Regional School Unit 13 Superintendent Lew Collins said a substantial budget deficit for the 2014-2015 school year will lead to painful cuts across the district.

Collins, who submitted his resignation Dec. 31, presented proposals to address the deficit to the Finance Committee during a Jan. 2 meeting at McLain School.

"In a nutshell we have a $1.7 million issue to deal with," Collins said.

The reason is rises in fixed costs that are out of control and increases in health insurance, negotiation and step-pay increases, he said.

The proposal includes merging Rockland District Middle School and Thomaston Grammar School, eliminating or reducing four administrative positions, cuts to each individual school budgets to be developed by the administrators, and reductions in special education, athletics, guidance, and professional development.

In addition, the superintendent said, the district cannot use reserve funds to help offset the tax impact because an audit revealed there was not as much in the account as district officials had anticipated.

"This budget that I'm proposing will have pain for everybody," Collins said, adding he believes it is imperative to merge the middle schools for this fall.

A proposal to merge the two schools for the current school year was taken out of budget deliberations by the school board in March 2013.

Collins estimates combining the two schools will save $414,000.

He is proposing to eliminate or reduce the director of school improvement position ($106,953 salary and benefits), a high school principal ($103,678 salary and benefits), assistant maintenance director (42,656 salary) and reduce the athletic director position to part-time ($31,264) for a total savings of $284,551.

Collins said he envisions the two high schools utilizing one principal who would split their time between the buildings and have two full-time assistant principals at each building.

The budget proposal does not call for eliminating teaching positions because what the district heard from people during the 2013-2014 budget process is they would like to see administration cuts.

The $1.07 million remainder of the deficit would be developed by administrators based on a percentage of their budget to the total.

The superintendent is proposing two new programs: gifted and talented teachers at the middle school and high school at a cost of $120,000 and a pre-kindergarten pilot program at $80,000.

"Your kindergarten teachers will love you and your students will benefit from it," Collins said.

Implementing the superintendent's proposed cuts and programs would mean a $633,823 increase to taxpayers.

The superintendent said at the end of fiscal year in June 2013, officials thought they had $1.4 million in surplus and $938,000 was used to offset taxes, but auditors learned in September the fund balance was actually $700,000.

The full school board is expected to discuss the 2015 budget at its next meeting, set for Thursday, Jan. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at McLain School.

RSU 13 includes schools in Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head, St. George and Cushing.

Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email klincoln@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Elizabeth Dickerson | Jan 03, 2014 08:31

there have been no step increases. our pay was frozen. so where did the money go? how do you have a 700 thousand discrepancy without noticing until the auditor comes in? where did the 300 plus grand we sent you back from the state go? why do we have so many paid consultants? how much is being spent in legal fees?



Posted by: Nicole Prentiss | Jan 03, 2014 08:26

Costs go up in healthcare every year that is a given.  Mismanagement of funds and paying for things that benefit the minority rather than the majority is what drive me crazy.  We are talking about removing a high school principal and expecting one principal to split his time between 2 high schools.  This may work on an elementary school level but we are dealing with high school students and situations that need to be handled immediately not in 3 hours when the principal gets there.  How can we have 1 administrator in the building and call this a good idea.  I have a son in Oceanside west right now and having Mr. Schooley there as well as the rest of his support staff is imperative and I can not imagine not having that option for these kids.  This is a turbulent time in kids lives and fights and confrontations are an every day event.  Can you imagine the turmoil that will be created when they know that there is only 1 person on sight who can deal with the situation.  However we are will to spend $120,000 on something that will only benefit a very small percentage of students rather than the student body as a whole.  I am so glad that I only have 3 more years of this district screwing up my children's educations!!!



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo | Jan 03, 2014 07:56

Just wondering if you didn't have the unions and Obama to blame, who or what would it be?  Benefits have always been a bargaining point.  I don't believe the unions have driven the cost of health care no more then I believe Obama is at fault for everything.



Posted by: Willaim Spear | Jan 02, 2014 20:43

I agree. Let the teachers get their own health insurance thru Obamacare and maybe they'll get the good deal I got. I was without health care last year. Luckily I'm a healthy person and didn't need it. But the new law says I have to have it. Or be penalized. So I went on the healthcare.gov web site to look for plans. Found a Blue Cross / Blue Shield Preferred Silver plan I liked. Deductible of $450. Yearly out of pocket of $1450. Okay numbers for me. So I signed up for it. Just today in the mail, I got my Blue Cross / Blue Shield ID card and first bill. On the open market, this plan sells for $598 dollars a month. My bill is for $19 dollars. I get a $579 subsidy because I live on Social Security. $19 bucks a month people for health insurance. I love Obamacare.



Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jan 02, 2014 16:56

One of the biggest problem is the teacher's union.  Let the teachers and other employees go on OBAMACARE. and pay for their own health insurance.  The majority of people in Maine voted for OBAMA so they need to take advantage of OBAMACARE!!!!!!



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Kim Lincoln
Copy Editor
594-4401 ext. 120
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Kim Lincoln has worked for Courier Publications since 2003, serving as a reporter, assistant editor and copy editor.

During her time with the company she has worked for each of the three newspapers, The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal.

When she is not in the newsroom, Kim likes to be outside, whether it be gardening, swimming, hiking or just enjoying the sunshine.

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