RSU 39 budget down $1 million

Posted May 28, 2010, at 8:36 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:55 a.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — Although the 2010-11 budget for Eastern Aroostook Regional School Unit 39 in Caribou has decreased more than $1 million over the current school year, the RSU still will request a slight increase in the local tax commitment for education.

The RSU consists of Caribou, Limestone and Stockholm. There are six schools in the unit.

Superintendent Frank McElwain said Friday that tough decisions were made to keep the $18.5 million budget as low as possible, and some of those decisions could lead to staffing cuts if voters approve the budget.

During a public hearing on Wednesday evening, the school committee approved the budget to head to voters for a June 8 referendum.

This year’s budget was heavily affected by the downturn in the economy, McElwain said. According to the superintendent, the RSU lost more than $631,000 in state funding for next year. He anticipates an even larger loss in state funding for the 2011-12 school year.

McElwain said the decrease in the budget was the result of several factors, including consolidation of the superintendent’s office, the business office and changes in the RSU’s transportation and maintenance department. The consolidation resulted in more than $200,000 in savings.

The proposed budget also includes significant job cuts. McElwain said that if the budget is approved as drafted, the RSU will have to cut 13 full-time positions, five half-time positions and 14 stipend positions. Some of those positions were eliminated already through attrition and staff transfers.

Despite the cuts, the RSU is requesting an additional $200,520 in the local tax commitment because of an increase in state valuations.

When taxpayers head to the polls on June 8, they also will vote on whether to continue the validation process.

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