$23M SAD 1 budget awaits voters’ OK

Posted May 26, 2009, at 10:27 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:47 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Voters in the five communities of SAD 1 will head to the polls on June 9 to decide whether to approve a nearly $23 million budget for the district’s 2009-10 school year.

SAD 1 Superintendent Gehrig Johnson said Tuesday that the budget is up 2 percent over last year.

The district consists of the towns of Presque Isle, Castle Hill, Chapman, Mapleton and Westfield.

Johnson said the district has been hit with a $316,000 loss in state funding due to a spike in the local valuation of communities in the district.

He added that the district has received some federal stabilization funds, but said they are “a short-term federal resource.”

“We had a pretty dramatic increase in the valuation of our local communities,” he noted. “That means that we have been pretty hard hit by a loss in state funding.”

According to the superintendent, salaries and benefits made up the “lion’s share” of this year’s budget with the 382 employees receiving a 3 percent cost of living increase. Johnson said the district did not have to shoulder an increase in its employees’ monthly medical premiums.

Nonetheless, the district had to eliminate 11 positions in administrative and support areas.

The school also decided not to participate in the governor’s laptop initiative.

Gov. John Baldacci announced in March that the Department of Education had secured a deal with Apple Inc. to lease more computers within the existing state budget so high schools could offer the same access to laptops that seventh- and eighth-graders have had since 2002.

The program is voluntary.

“We decided that we simply could not afford to participate,” Johnson said.

The district will hold its annual budget meeting on Wednesday, June 3, and voters in the five towns will vote on the budget on Tuesday, June 9.

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