School budget vote is Aug. 13
The Regional School Unit District budget meeting was held Wednesday, July 24, at Oceanside High School East.
About 110 voters turned out and they decided to add back $343,162 to the Regular Instruction warrant article. A total of 110 voters out of nearly 7,000 registered voters in the six towns represents less than 2 percent of the people, and is not a good sample of how the entire district may feel. The voters will be asked to validate the decisions made at this meeting by casting written ballots in their towns on Aug. 13. This is the procedure that Maine law dictates and every school district has to follow those rules.
The 2013-2014 school budget represents an overall 1.2 percent increase in taxes for the entire district. Each of our six towns is affected in different ways with some seeing tax cuts (St. George and Thomaston down by about a half percent) and others seeing tax increases of 1.6 percent (Rockland) or 6.4 percent (Owls Head). Overall, the fact that the increase as a whole is coming in at 1.2 percent is a small miracle given the factors the school board had to deal with. The board faced a 3 percent increase in health insurance for all of its employees and increases in fuel and food as well. At the same time, the state was cutting its revenue to schools and towns while also adding a new bill to be paid in teacher retirement costs.
The students and staff would like to start the new school year with a budget passed and validated by the voters. I sincerely believe that the school board reached its goal of adopting a budget that respected both our student and taxpayer needs. It’s not easy to achieve that kind of balance and it’s even more difficult to have a community reach a consensus about the many issues confronting schools and school budgets. We all hope we came close enough with this new budget to garner the votes of a substantial majority of voters in our six towns.
No matter what you think about the budget we ask that you please vote Tuesday, Aug. 13 at your town's usual voting locations. Absentee ballots are also available.
Thanks for your support and participation.
Lew Collins is the superintendent of RSU 13.