HODGDON, Maine — Officials in SAD 70 will gather later this month to begin crafting a budget in light of a $312,000 reduction in state funding.
The funding loss includes an approximately $88,000 penalty for failing to comply with the school consolidation law, Superintendent Robert McDaniel said Wednesday.
State aid figures were released earlier this month, approximately a month early. School districts across Maine are expected to see a $92 million drop in state aid that stems from recession-related revenue losses.
The funding still must be approved by the Legislature.
SAD 70 consists of the towns of Amity, Cary Plantation, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Linneus, Ludlow and New Limerick.
McDaniel said that he and the Finance Committee are meeting and “talking about what we might do in terms of the budget.”
“We are going to try not to cut staff,” he said Tuesday. “We have staff retiring this year, and we will look at not replacing them. We also do not have any large maintenance projects planned. We are basically going to try and work with what we have and not increase our budget over last year.”
The penalty from the state stems from the fact that district voters never approved a consolidation plan. In 2008, a proposed consolidation plan called for SAD 29 in Houlton, SAD 70, SAD 14 in Danforth, CSD 9 in Dyer Brook, SAD 25 in Stacyville and the municipal units of Hersey, Moro Plantation, Orient and Bancroft to form the Tri-County Regional School Unit. Voters in Hodgdon and in SAD 29 rejected the idea.
The SAD 70 board then started regionalization talks with SAD 25 and Community School District 9.
Two months ago, however, the SAD 70 board directed McDaniel to explore joining SAD 29 in Houlton as a regional school unit. The two districts are next door to each other.
In March, SAD 29 received permission from the state Department of Education to move forward alone under the state regionalization law.
SAD 29 has more than 1,300 students, which is above the minimum of 1,200 needed under the law to form a regional school unit.
Hodgdon is too small to form a school unit on its own. There are just two schools in the district, and only 165 students attend Hodgdon High School.
Houlton is just five miles from Hodgdon. The school districts have collaborated in the past in several areas, including adult education services and a high school hockey team.
Those talks remain ongoing.