The budget for the Five Town Community School District is scheduled to rise by 2.89 percent to $12,907,565.93 for 2019-2020. Combined with a 2.51 percent decrease in revenues, this will result in a 4.02 percent increase for taxpayers.

The increases are largely because of rising teacher salaries and anticipated increases in health costs across the board, according to budget documents put forth by the district. The largest department increases in the budget are for regular instruction, system administration and special education.

There will be a public hearing May 21 at 7 p.m. in the Strom Auditorium at Camden Hills Regional High School to finalize the budget for inclusion on the Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville June ballots.

The 4.98 percent increase in the regular instruction budget will fund a half-time media teacher, as well as a full-time innovation coach.

The school district planned to add a full-time media position, but this year chose to lower that to half-time to help fund the innovation coach at the new Hatchery Innovation Center. CSD Superintendent Maria Libby said The Hatchery, which will be located in the industrial arts space, will begin offering two courses next year, and the innovation coach will also work to help teachers incorporate more innovative strategies into their courses..

Libby said the industrial arts space and offerings will be scaled back, which will include cutting the auto repair classes, but the school will continue to offer welding classes with a part-time teacher. The budget proposes taking $25,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund for renovations to the space, which will be known as the Maker Space, but Libby said the school is applying for several grants for a more extensive overhaul in the future.

The special education budget is planned to increase by 8.95 percent. This is partly because of a $35,000 private tuition payment, which Libby said is a relatively rare situation where the district is financially responsible for sending a special education student outside the district. The assistant special education director position will be increased to full-time, which will result in increased costs, but Libby said the position will split time evenly between the high school and Camden Rockport Middle School, and a larger administrative offset will pay for a portion of the increase.

The district is also budgeting $21,500 for a director of development and communications, whose time will also be split between the high school and middle school. This added position is largely responsible for the 7.33 percent increase in the system administration budget.

The tax burden on each of the five towns is based partly on the share of students from the respective towns at the high school, and partly on town valuations. The burden on each town ranges from a 2.74 percent decrease for Appleton residents to a 5.81 percent increase for Camden. Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport will see increases of 5.77 percent, 5.46 percent, and 2.1 percent, respectively.

There are also several smaller items in the budget for the Increase in Equity Initiative, which includes money for all sophomores to take the PSAT and $9,000 to make breakfast and lunch free for students who currently qualify for reduced-price meals.

The CSD has also finished paying off interest on the high school, and the principal payments will be subsidized by the state. The school will be fully paid for by November 2021. Libby did warn that people expecting relief on taxes once the bond is fully repaid will be disappointed, as that savings appeared in 2017, when the state started subsidizing the principal payments. In 2017, while the expense budget increased by 2.63 percent, the taxpayer burden dropped 4.51 percent.

In addition to the $25,000 for renovations to the Maker Space, the budget calls for $25,000 for a heat recovery study, which Libby said will determine if the school can recover heat from its ventilation system. The budget calls for a transfer of $75,000 from unexpended balances to the Capital Reserve Fund to cover the costs and add an additional $25,000.