Public can weigh in on SAD 60 school cuts

Posted March 16, 2011, at 10:03 a.m.

NORTH BERWICK, Maine — The Noble School District is hoping an Internet survey asking the public to rank budget items will help administrators make cuts that will be as palatable as possible to residents.

The survey, online at sad60.k12.me.us, asks North Berwick, Berwick and Lebanon residents to rank 10 funding-related categories on a scale of priority. A score of one is considered the highest priority and 10 is the lowest, and each rank can only be used once.

At the end of the survey, residents are asked to give suggestions for areas they’d like to see cut and list possible grants and other funding the district could or should pursue. Residents are also asked to state how much of an increase they would be willing to pay should property taxes need to be raised to fund a budget increase.

Currently, the district is proposing a $34,204,032 fiscal year 2012 budget, which is $2,366,572 or 7.43 percent higher than the current $31,837,460 budget. It was unknown Tuesday how much of a tax rate increase this would pose for the three towns in Maine School Administrative District 60.

Among the highest budget increases are transportation and busing, as District Business Manager Denise Van Campen is projecting a 21.51 percent or $433,718 increase from this year’s $2,016,809 to $2,450,527 in that section of the budget due to rising fuel costs.

The district is also estimating about a 10 percent increase across the board in medical and dental costs, which in part helps increase the cost of regular instruction from $13,682,907 to $14,430,132 and school administration from $1,287,132 to $1,588,926, among other areas of the budget.

An estimated 80 percent of the budget is related to personnel, according to Van Campen and the MSAD 60 board of directors.

Also reflected in the budget is a loss of $400,000 in state aid to the district given the expiration of federal stimulus money at the end of this school year.

The district hosted a workshop on Thursday, March 10, to discuss the regular instruction, career and technical education, and other instruction areas of the budget.

The special education and debt services lines will be discussed at the next regular board of directors’ meeting at the Hussey School on Thursday. There is a budget workshop set for Thursday, March 24, at Noble High School for student and staff support, system administration and school administration.

There are other discussions scheduled, and the board is targeting April 14 as a possible date they may approve the budget. The annual budget meeting is on May 5, while the referendum vote will occur on May 10.

Copyright (c) 2011, Foster’s Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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