HAMPDEN, Maine — A quick look at the 2011-12 budget proposed for SAD 22 reveals a nearly 13 percent increase.
Before taxpayers in that district panic, though, almost all of the increase is debt service associated with construction of a new $51.6 million Hampden Academy. The construction debt of $2.3 million for next year is required to be included in the budget, but SAD 22 will receive reimbursement from the Maine Department of Education for that item.
Without the debt service, the overall $25.6 million budget shows an increase of about 1 percent to taxpayers in Hampden, Winterport and Newburgh, the three towns comprising SAD 22.
That increase will require additional contributions from each town: $39,477 from Hampden, $16,868 from Newburgh and $24,538 from Winterport.
Residents of those communities are invited to discuss the budget at a public forum at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 25, at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden.
“It’s a budget that’s very responsive of the challenges we face, but it also does not significantly change curricula or service to students,” SAD 22 Superintendent Rick Lyons said Friday.
Administrators for SAD 22, like many others in school districts across the state, struggled to craft a budget amid increasing health insurance and energy costs and decreasing revenue streams.
The 2011-12 proposed budget eliminates one full-time position and five part-time teaching positions spread throughout the district’s schools. Lyons said the budget also reflects the impact of at least eight teachers taking advantage of an early retirement incentive.
Only a few weeks ago, Lyons learned that three SAD 22 schools earned the distinction of being both high-performing and efficient, according to a study by the Maine Education Policy Research Institute at the University of Southern Maine.
Hampden Academy was one of only nine high schools, among 105 studied, that were designated as both higher-performing and efficient. The other eight were located south of Augusta. Reeds Brook Middle School was among 17 middle schools identified as higher-performing and efficient, and Weatherbee Elementary School was among 54 elementary schools selected.
Lyons said that recognition is important for residents in the SAD 22 communities because it shows that students are getting a good value education.
Last year, voters in SAD 22 approved a $22.7 million budget that increased local taxpayer support by 1.6 percent.
After next week’s public forum, the SAD 22 board of directors will meet on May 4 to discuss the budget again and then will vote at its meeting on June 9.
The final step, as required by state law, is a public vote scheduled for June 14 in each community.