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Rockland area school board mulls over development post

By Stephen Betts | Mar 03, 2021
Regional School Unit 13 Board Chair Loren Andrews during a board meeting held earlier in the year.

Rockland — The Rockland area school district's finance committee debated March 2 whether a position was needed to promote the success of the school system.

The Regional School Unit finance committee, consisting of several members of the board, met online for two hours March 2.

Business Manager Peter Orne said the projected "status quo" budget for 2021-2022 of $33,280,195 would result in a 3.7% ($1,185,000) increase in expenditures. The district expects to receive about $400,000 more in state aid, which will limit the increase from local property taxes to $700,000 which is a 2.2% increase.

The status quo budget assumes there will be no additions or new programs. The budget also includes an average 4% increase in salaries and wages for employees and an 8% increase in health insurance costs.

Superintendent John McDonald said he will be able to submit a formal budget by the end of the month. The board is then expected to vote on the budget in early May and district voters can decide on it at the June 8 referendum.

One issue that generated considerable discussion was whether the district should create a position that would serve both as a development officer to successfully receive grants and raise money, as well as a public information officer to promote the district.

Board Chair Loren Andrews of Cushing said a development director could help raise money for projects such as renovating the Oceanside High School auditorium so tax dollars don't have to be used.

Board member Chelsea Avirett of Rockland said if the position were more of a public relations position she could not support it.

Board member Gerald Weinand of Rockland said, similar to a business, RSU 13 needs to advertise itself to attract students.

Board member Chelsea Avirett of Rockland said similar to a business, the district needs to earn money. She said she could not support creating a public relations position during a pandemic.

Board member Doug Curtis Jr. said increasing the minimum wage during a pandemic also not a good idea.

Avirett told Curtis not to bring up proposals promoted by her husband. Avirett's husband is Rockland City Councilor Nate Davis, who sponsored placing a minimum wage increase before Rockland voters. City voters approved Nov. 3 by a 2,312 to 1,209 vote  to increase the minimum wage by $15 to 2024. The wage would only apply to businesses who employ more than 25 workers in Rockland.

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Comments (5)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Mar 05, 2021 11:55

OOPS!!! Looks like I left something out. The extravagance apparently isn't yet complete. Now the Board Chair is suggesting the auditorium needs renovation. Not extravagant enough? No wonder we are being taxed out of house and home.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Mar 04, 2021 08:18

All too often I feel unfulfilled after reading a story in the Courier.  They are great at the "where and when", but fail on the "how & why".  I am certain everyone on the school board knows the entire community opposes an increase in the budget, yet over & over they talk about new ways to spend your money.  I just feel like I am missing something here.  "How" can they continue to act so irresponsible and "why" do they think this is OK ?  Wish someone from the board would step forward to answer these questions.

Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Mar 03, 2021 14:06

The constant upward spiral of the budget is now the "Status Quo" ... it's just a "givin"....don't even dare to think that there is another way.  Pay is down across the board, business is way down, food cost rise everyday but God forbid we have to practice some restraint...that is just for the tax paying drone, not us.

Remember all this when you pay your property taxes, you now work for them, they don't work for you.  They aren't "mulling" over anything.  They know that the more they can bloat their budget today, then in a few years, they can let the position go and say how much they care about keeping the cost down.

33 Million for a local school budget...? Might be less to send the kids to Gould Academy or Colby for a year just to see how it works out!  (SM)

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Mar 03, 2021 10:49

For once you took the words right out of my mouth Stephen ..... they never cease to find new ways to inflate the budget. Now that umpteen millions have been expended on overly extravagant buildings, maze-like revamped parking lots and grounds, the next illogical step is non-essential staffing and increased administrative costs.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Mar 03, 2021 07:24

Once again the School district is so flush with extra cash, they just sit around the table trying to come up with creative ways to spend your money.  Now that we have an assistant superintendent, lets go for something special like public relations.  Gerald perhaps you could check with the local papers.  Think you will find most businesses are NOT advertising.  Why, because they can't afford to, a word the school district does not have in their vocabulary.  Minimum wage is a glorious talking point unless you're the one paying it.  Here's a thought, perhaps the district could discuss ways to work within their means instead of finding new ways to spend your money.

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