RSU 34 budget up for approval June 8

Posted May 28, 2010, at 10:18 p.m.

Voters in Old Town, Alton and Bradley will vote June 8 on the 2010-2011 budget for RSU 34, the consolidated school system established in January 2009 in accordance with state law.

The $16.3 million budget eliminates several teaching positions and reflects other efficiencies aimed at minimizing tax increases in the participating municipalities.

The budget represents an overall reduction of $352,000 from the current year’s spending plan. The need to reduce spending was driven in large part by a cut of $591,000 in general purpose aid from the state, and offset by an infusion of $104,000 in federal stimulus dollars, resulting in a net funding loss of $486,895.

Staff reductions include one teaching position at Old Town Elementary School, one teaching position at Alton Elementary School, a special education position at Leonard Middle School in Old Town and a teaching position shared between Old Town High School and Leonard Middle School. In addition, a clerk position has been eliminated and hours will be reduced for some other staff.

Other cuts include reductions in the amount budgeted for textbooks, supplies and technology.

In addition, the board has authorized a zero percent increase in wages to school support staff such as secretaries and custodians. The salaries and benefits of administrative staff, including the superintendent, will be frozen at their current levels.

Salary and benefits agreements with unionized teaching staff from the three communities must be honored in the new budget, and other operating expenses are fixed and non-negotiable.

The local required share of the cost of operating RSU 34 schools is set at 6.90 mils, based on the total property valuation of each member community. Additional funds to cover the new budget will be assessed based on property valuation and student population.

The budget as recommended by the school board already was approved by voters attending the annual school budget meeting at Old Town High School earlier this month. The state law that mandated school consolidation requires a second approval in a referendum vote at the polls.

In addition to voting on the budget itself, voters on June 8 will be asked if they want to keep the new two-step budget approval process or revert to the previous process of adopting the budget at the annual school budget meeting.

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