Ten job cuts eyed in RSU 13

By Kim Lincoln | Apr 17, 2014

Rockland — Ten Regional School Unit 13 jobs were put on the table for possible elimination during an April 16 budget workshop. The cuts add up to about $500,000.

The board took no action on the reductions, but will be discussing the slightly less than $27 million budget at a workshop Monday, April 28, at 6 p.m. at McLain School in Rockland. Public informational meetings will also be held Tuesday, April 29 at McLain School and Wednesday, April 30 at Lura Libby School in Thomaston. Those meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

Interim Superintendent Michael Wilhelm has previously stated the district has about a $2 million budget gap to fill. Wilhelm said there is $938,000 less in fund balance or carryover from last year, $233,000 less in state subsidy, a $300,000 increase in health insurance and possibly a $400,000 increase in teacher salaries. Most of the district's teachers and administrators are in the midst of contract negotiations.

One proposal calls for filling the open Oceanside High School East principal position with an existing administrator to serve in an interim role. Current Principal Tom Forti is retiring at the end of the school year. The move would save $82,731.

"The status of the configuration of secondary education in RSU 13 is in a state of flux. It might be considered wise to wait until there is some certainty to the role of the principal before filling the position," states information provided by the district.

The district has also proposed eliminating two World Language positions, which would cut the elementary language program for students in kindergarten to fifth grade. If approved, World Language education would begin in sixth grade. The proposal would save $82,196.

"By concentrating language in the upper grades with the remaining staff [five teachers] the district could provide a more robust program," district documents state. "Also, it is essential the district provide sufficient time for teaching literacy and math skills at the primary grades and this would allow for more time to that end."

Two library and media positions are proposed to be cut for a savings of $77,369. Instead, the kindergarten to seventh-grade libraries would be supported by educational technicians under the supervision of a certified librarian while the district revamps the technology and media positions during the 2014-2015 school year to better fit with emerging technology.

The industrial technology teacher at Oceanside East would be eliminated under the proposal in order for the district to move toward a more STEM -- or science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- approach. The proposal would save $44,082.  An industrial technology ed tech position may also be cut for an $18,207 savings.

A proposal to eliminate a social work position at South School in Rockland and fill it with a district guidance counselor would provide uniformity for counseling services across the schools, the district states. Social worker needs can be assumed by existing district social workers.

Other potential job cuts include: An administrative assistant ($20,256) and a library ed tech ($27,602) at Oceanside High School West and not filling a first semester leave for an English Language Arts teacher at Oceanside High School East ($29,992).

Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Douglas Milton | Apr 19, 2014 11:40

I imagine some monies could have been saved to offset this deficit had efficiency in managing the RSU been a primary consideration. The primary objective: effectively educating our children through the fiduciary use of our limited tax dollars has obviously been forgotten amid the bickering and other negatives which have overwhelmed the Administrators!

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Apr 18, 2014 06:34

RSU-13 had better DO MORE than just EYE job cuts.  They had better make the hard choices needed to see that homeowners' real estate taxes are not increased.

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