The administration’s draft budget for Maine School Administrative District 40 calls for combining elementary school classrooms and cutting several teacher positions just to keep the expenses in line with last year’s budget. Superintendent Francis Boynton presented the draft budget to the SAD 40 Budget Committee on Feb. 2 in response to the school board’s earlier request that the administration come up with a 2011 budget with a zero increase in expenses from the current year.

The superintendent said the district’s administration worked with school principals to prepare the draft budget. Boynton said he briefed the staff earlier on Feb. 2. He said the administration took seriously the school board’s charge to craft a budget with no increases in expenses.

“The team can support it but it doesn’t make us happy,” Boynton said.

The draft 2011 budget of $20,911,325 includes $700,000 in major cost increases. They include $148,277 for an anticipated rise in health insurance, $158,175 for a contingency for teacher salary increases (the contract is not settled), $148,840 for the Apple computer leases that were funded last year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $91,700 in extra money for heating oil, and $30,150 for the increase in diesel costs. The superintendent presented these major cost increases to start the meeting. This meant that after only 20 minutes of the Budget Committee’s session, the district was in a $700,000 hole in order to keep the budget flat funded.

The administration’s draft budget calls for combining several elementary school classrooms. In Friendship, for example, the draft budget takes out a fourth-grade class and a fifth-grade class and puts the students in a combined fourth-fifth grade. At the Miller School, a combined second-third grade would have 18 students. A combined fourth-fifth grade would have 14 students.

This allows for cutting several administrative and teacher positions in the draft budget. The personnel cuts include eight grade-level teachers, an administrative assistant at the central office, an administrative position at Union Elementary School, and part of a guidance position at Medomak Middle School. The amount for the salary and benefits for each of the eight grade-level teachers is $48,924. The administrative and guidance positions are each funded at $27,000 to $37,000.

The draft budget shows how each school would be affected.

At the Warren Community School, the draft budget calls for cutting three grade-level teachers. There would be a new second-third grade class and a new third-fourth grade class. The school as a whole would see its expenses drop from $2,043,272 to $1,947,351.

The draft budget also cuts three grade-level teachers at the Miller School. There would be two combined classes. The school’s overall expenses would drop from $1,920,921 to $1,753,849.

At Friendship Village School, one teacher position would be eliminated. The new fourth-fifth grade class would have 20 students, and the new fifth-sixth grade class would have 21 students. The school’s overall budget would go from $823,092 to $782,169.

At Union Elementary School, one teacher position would be cut. The new third-fourth grade class would have 19 students. The school’s overall budget would go from $873,116 to $811,250.

The draft budget shows no changes to teacher positions or grades at the Prescott Memorial School.

The Feb. 2 meeting was only a presentation on the draft budget, and there will be a lot of opportunity for public participation before the school board votes on a final budget and it goes to voters. The SAD 40 Budget Committee, which includes all the school board members, will hold open meetings Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at Medomak Middle School in Room 206 to go through the budget until the beginning of April. The committee will not meet Feb. 16 because of school vacation.