HODGDON, Maine — Voters in the seven towns in SAD 70 will get a chance tonight to ask questions and weigh in on the district’s $6 million school budget during a public hearing at Hodgdon High School.
The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium.
Students in the SAD 70 towns of Amity, Cary Plantation, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Linneus, Ludlow and New Limerick are educated in two schools. The school board passed the budget during a meeting last month.
Taxpayers in the district will be paying less money for education this year, as the budget is down $190,205 from last year. The assessment to the towns for education also has not increased.
The district is receiving approximately $300,000 less from the state this year, which includes a $93,000 fine from the state for not complying with the law requiring school administration consolidation.
In November 2008, a proposed consolidation plan called for the district to merge with SAD 29 in Houlton, SAD 14 in Danforth, Community School District 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 several other towns, however, turned down the idea.
The district conducted consolidation talks last year with SAD 25 and CSD 9, but the school board decided to pull out of the discussion and instead explore the idea of consolidating with SAD 29. Officials from both districts are considering that proposal.
Last year, the district received federal stimulus money, but that allocation has run out and was not figured into this year’s budget.
Superintendent Robert McDaniel said school officials and the board have decreased the budget by $320,000 over the last two years. The decrease is due to several factors, including staff retirements and reductions in budget line items, he said.
Four staff members at the school are retiring, and just two of those positions will be filled. Reductions also were made to the special education department, as the district has seen a reduction in class sizes in that area.
Along with those reductions, administrators and most teachers in the district will not be getting pay increases.
If the budget is approved tonight, a referendum will take place on June 8.