BELFAST, Maine — The first of Regional School Union 20’s two-part budget validation process will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday when residents get their initial look at the new region’s proposed $33,529 budget during a hearing at Troy Howard Middle School.
The referendum vote on the final spending package will be held in the nine RSU 20 communities on Tuesday, June 23. The polls will be open the regular hours in each community.
RSU 20 is made up of the former SAD 34 communities of Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont and Swanville and the former SAD 56 communities of Frankfort, Searsport and Stockton Springs. The two districts joined together last year under the new school consolidation law.
The budget represents an increase of $100,000, or less than one-third of 1 percent, over the combined SAD 34 and SAD 56 operating budgets for the 2008-09 school year. The RSU 20 board of directors was able to hold the line on spending without cutting programs because of consolidation, Superintendent Bruce Mailloux said Monday.
“The proposed budget represents some of the savings of consolidation and it also represents some of the costs of consolidation,” Mailloux said. “The good news is the costs of consolidation are one-time cost and the savings will keep on going.”
The goal of consolidation was to reduce the cost of administration and eliminate duplication of jobs, and the board was able to accomplish that. Instead of two, the school union now has one superintendent, one business manager, one curriculum coordinator, one technical coordinator, one special education director, and one transportation and maintenance director.
Some of the one-time costs of consolidation involved re-lettering school buses, changing the accounting system, and legal fees for changing the school property deeds from the SADs to the RSU.
The new union contains approximately 200 square miles and will have 2,613 students. There are 558 employees, 13 regular schools, including two high schools, one alternative high school and a fleet of 38 buses.
“The size and related numbers that we are used to working with have increased substantially because of consolidation,” Mailloux said. “We have to remind ourselves frequently that we are now one region, not two school districts.”
The projected costs are:
· Regular instruction — $12,204,270.
· Board of directors — $5,468,196.
· Vocational education —$390,337.
· Other instruction — $541,737.
· Student-staff support — $2,552,389.
· System administration — $882,236.
· School administration —$1,711,733.
· Transportation — $2,496,698.
· Facilities-maintenance — $3,788,841.
· Debt service — $2,941,589.
· Food service-contingency — $551,131.
Of the $33,529,157 total budget, $12,204,270 will come in the form of state subsidy, the balance from property taxes.
The assessment for the member communities will be:
· Belfast, which contributed $7,062,145 last year, will be taxed $7,192,898, an increase of $130,752 or 1.8 percent.
· Belmont, which contributed $471,020 last year, will be taxed $465,819, a decrease of $5,200, a decline of 1.1 percent.
· Frankfort, which contributed $750,042 last year, will be taxed $679,339, a decrease of $70,702, a decline of 10.4 percent.
· Morrill, which contributed $434,024 last year, will be taxed $460,855, an increase of $26,831 or 5.8 percent.
· Northport, which contributed $2,696,617 last year, will be taxed $2,536,567, a decrease of $160,050, a decline of 6.3 percent.
· Searsmont, which contributed $1,094,986 last year, will be taxed $1,185,647, an increase of 7.6 percent.
· Searsport, which contributed $2,692,527 last year, will be taxed $2,644,536, a decrease of $47,991, a decline of 1.8 percent.
· Stockton Springs, which contributed $1,926,378 last year, will be taxed $2,066,948, an increase of $140,569, or 6.8 percent.
· Swanville, which contributed $908,202 last year, will be taxed $948,186, an increase of $39,983, or 4.2 percent.
“Generally speaking, people are pretty happy with the budget,” Mailloux said. “Our original goal was to have as near-zero increase as we could and we came pretty close.”