May 23, 2018
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Towns see mixed effects from RSU 19 budget

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

ST. ALBANS, Maine — Although seven of the eight towns that make up RSU 19 have seen a 100 percent increase in their state valuations since 2000, St. Albans’ valuation has jumped a whopping 250 percent.

Regional School Unit superintendent William Braun told St. Albans officials Monday night that increased valuations are the reason half of the towns will see an increase in their tax assessments while the other half will see a decrease.

Braun unveiled the final budget figures for officials, saying this was the hardest budget he has ever created.

“We start a brand-new district on July 1,” he said. “It has no financial history.” RSU 19 consists of six SAD 48 towns — Corinna, Newport, Plymouth, Hartland, St. Albans and Palmyra, and two SAD 38 towns — Etna and Dixmont.

Braun said the $22.8 million RSU 19 budget, which represents a $459,370 increase over the two district’s budgets last year, was partially offset by federal stimulus funds. But the superintendent also warned that the RSU would be scrambling for extra local funds in two years when the stimulus money is no longer available.

He said that one position, a Response To Intervention administrator, would be paid through stimulus funds. Arnold Shorey, formerly principal of Nokomis Regional High School, will take that position as assistant superintendent, and in two years, when the federal funds are no longer available, Braun will retire.

RSU 19 is receiving $336,000 in what Braun called “Obama money” that will be used to offset local taxation.

As proposed, the 2009-2010 budget would see increases in local assessments for education of $83,069 in Corinna; $155,545 in Newport; $61,402 in Palmyra; and $87,897 in St. Albans.

Dixmont’s assessment would drop by $22,207; Etna’s by $41,688; Hartland’s by $85,334; and Plymouth’s by $5,562.

Braun explained that by consolidating into an RSU, the two districts saved approximately $1.3 million, mostly by combining administrators and service providers.

He explained that RSU 19 will be spending $208,000 below what the state has determined is necessary for essential services. He said that places RSU 19 fifth from the bottom in the state in per pupil expenditures.

“Do not equate that with quality of education,” he stressed. RSU 19 students consistently test high and this year’s graduating class at Nokomis had a 73 percent college acceptance rate.

The district budget meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 15. Braun said there would be 18 articles on the warrant and voters have the option to accept them as presented by the RSU board, or to vote the amounts higher or lower.

The district referendum, however, which is set for Tuesday, June 23, will contain one question which will allow for a yes or no vote on the entire $22.8 million.

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