School board continues to crunch budget numbers
Rockport — With the Regional School Unit 13 Board expected to vote on the 2014-2015 budget at its Thursday, May 1 meeting, the group is still working to come to an agreement on a proposed spending package.
The board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at McLain School. A public informational meeting is also organized for tonight, Wednesday, April 30 at Lura Libby School in Thomaston. It begins at 6:30 p.m.
To reduce the tax impact to communities, it has been proposed to eliminate 10 positions, not to fill the first semester leave of an English position at Oceanside High School East and to take about $88,000 from retiree savings to reduce the budget. It is estimated this would save $514,979.
It is also proposed to eliminate the business manager position and replace it with a district accountant for a savings of $30,000. The contract for current Business Manager Scott Vaitones is set to expire in late June. He said his long-term goal has been to retire in January 2015.
"From my perspective of having been a business manager for 28 years, I feel it is an essential position in a district this size. Otherwise the superintendent would quickly get bogged down in day-to-day none educational issues. There are a few districts the size of RSU 13 that also have a staff accountant, but I don't know of any that have a staff accountant in place of a business manager," Vaitones said April 30.
Other reductions include: organizing junior varsity girls and boys tennis and golf differently without hiring another coach for a savings of $5,000; using $20,000 of Title I funds to cover a portion of the salary for the director of school improvement, which is held by Neal Guyer; purchase only one new bus for a savings of $20,000; and reduce substitute lines, which is proposed to save $20,000.
Interim Superintendent Michael Wilhelm has previously stated the district has about a $2 million budget gap to fill. Wilhelm said there is $938,000 less in fund balance or carryover from last year, $233,000 less in state subsidy, a $300,000 increase in health insurance and possibly a $400,000 increase in teacher salaries.
Without the cuts, the budget is proposed to increase 1.3 percent for a total of $27.58 million. With cuts in place, it would be a 1 percent increase for a total budget of $27.23 million, Wilhelm said.
At the meeting, the board is also expected to go into a closed-door session to review proposed teacher contracts with the Seacoast Education Association. Wilhelm said April 30 he does not expect the contracts to be finalized at the meeting because the teacher's union, Seacoast Education Association, has not had time to finalize a vote by its members.
RSU 13 includes schools in the towns of Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, St. George, Owls Head and Cushing.
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The Camden Herald editor Kim Lincoln has worked for Courier Publications since 2003.
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