RSU 13 budget deficit reaches $1.7 millionMiddle school merger, administration cuts proposed
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.
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