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Public can comment this evening on Rockland area school budget

By Stephen Betts | Jun 25, 2020

Rockland — A public hearing is being held this evening on the proposed $32.1 million budget for Regional School Unit 13.

The hearing will be held via Zoom at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 25.

The meeting can be viewed at:https://vimeo.com/427078290 or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_v3ntD0jDgZ4DDIAvaDHog

People who want to send comments or ask questions can email comments@rsu13.org before the hearing or during the hearing. Members of the public who want to participate in the Zoom meeting can also go to the Zoom link on the home page of rsu13.org and then ask for the password via comments@rsu13.org.

The 2020-2021 budget package will go before voters at the polls in the five towns of Regional School Unit 13 Tuesday, July 14. Absentee ballots are available at municipal offices in Rockland, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing for people who do not want to go to the polls July 14.

The proposed $32,095,000 budget for the next school year represents a 2.9% ($919,000) increase from the approved 2019-2020 budget.

The business manager said the increase is largely the result of salary and wage increases of $675,000 and health benefit increases of $450,000. He said an increasing number of staff are adding spouses and children to their insurance coverage. The district is also repaying the state for an over-payment in state aid from a year ago.

The administration eliminated six positions that will become vacant through retirements. This includes three teaching positions, an administrative assistant at the high school and two educational technician positions. There have been additional retirements since the budget was put together and the administration is looking at whether their duties can be absorbed by existing staff.

The superintendent has also pointed out that the budget does not include items that the board asked about, such as a school resource officer, an additional elementary teacher at South School, an additional elementary teacher at Ash Point Community School and another world language teacher for the middle school.

The budget includes a projected state aid increase of $1.1 million, but the administration acknowledged the increase may be cut.

District leaders say they do not want to lay off staff now when there may be money coming from the federal government to make up any gap in loss of state aid.

There will be significant differences between what the five individual municipalities of RSU 13 will pay for the budget in property taxes because of factors such as changes in student enrollment and state valuations.

Rockland, for example, would pay $30,000 less in taxes next year, dropping its annual share to $10.5 million. Thomaston would pay $27,000 less, dropping to $4.9 million. Owls Head, however, would pay nearly $185,000 more with its annual share rising to $3.58 million. Cushing would pay $51,000 more for a total of $3.87 million, and South Thomaston would pay $31,000 more for annual cost of $3.33 million.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Tom Von Malder | Jun 25, 2020 12:32

Seems weird the public comments meeting comes after the ballots already have been printed and some absentee ballot voting on the budget has taken place. Any comments at this meeting then would do absolutely nothing. Seems like the only way to affect change is through voting for school board members.



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