June 24, 2018
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Frenchville, St. Agatha OK $3.5M school budget

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — Voters in the two towns that make up SAD 33 easily approved the district’s $3.5 million budget on Tuesday.

Superintendent Dr. Fern Desjardins said Wednesday that the turnout of 435 voters was the highest the district has seen in the three years since referendum voting has been required.

According to Desjardins, the budget was approved 345 to 90.

The pre-kindergarten through grade 12 proposed budget of more than $3.5 million is down 4.14 percent from the current budget, and the adult education budget of $28,000 is up 2.5 percent. Despite a penalty of more than $54,000 assessed to the district for not complying with state law requiring school districts to consolidate administrations, the board was able to present voters with a lower budget than last year.

The district lost $224,708 in state aid this year, and the local contribution for education costs is $3,174 more than last year.

The budget includes the elimination of two teaching positions at the elementary level, a quarter-time teacher that developed the French curriculum and assisted teachers in teaching French, and a bus purchase. It also included reductions in building repairs and maintenance, insurance premium costs, electricity and fuel expenses.

The budget includes the addition of a gifted and talented program, a half-time math and science teacher, a new science textbook series at the elementary level and an educational technician to work in the elementary special education program. It also includes an increase of $27,839 in the district’s contribution toward career and technical education at the St. John Valley Technology Center.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds have been a source of revenue for special projects in the current year and will be available again next year, supplementing the overall budget.

For the local share, Frenchville residents will raise $327,668 and St. Agatha will raise $408,828. When compared with the 2009-10 budget, that represents a decrease of 1.5 percent for Frenchville and a 2 percent increase for St. Agatha. Frenchville will be paying 44.5 percent for its share of education costs, while St. Agatha will pay 55.5 percent.

During Tuesday’s elections, voters also were asked to decide whether they wanted to continue the school budget referendum process. Residents voted 267-156 in favor of continuing the process for another three years.

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