BUCKSPORT, Maine — The RSU 25 school board on Tuesday approved a $12.8 million budget for the coming school year that includes staff and program cuts throughout the district as well as savings from the closing of the Orland Consolidated School.
At $12,813,196, the proposed budget is almost $800,000 less than the current school budget.
“Obviously, part of that is the result of closing the Orland school,’’ said Superintendent Jim Boothby. “But overall we’ve had staff reductions across the board.”
The budget reflects the elimination of the equivalent of 11.5 positions, including teaching positions in the elementary, middle and high schools, special education, art music and language, as well as secretarial and custodial positions. In addition, there will be reductions in at least a dozen educational tech positions, Boothby said.
“When you lose $900,000 of funding, this is what happens,” he said.
Although the budget reduces teaching staff in the art and music programs, Boothby said, the district still will provide those programs for all students, K-12. At one point in the budgeting process, he said, it appeared that the board might be forced to eliminate those programs in the early elementary grades.
“We’ll still have art and music K-12, albeit reduced,” he said. “We’ll offer a full spectrum of educational opportunities although there will be some time reductions in some of those unified arts areas.”
All but one of the cost center categories were reduced, most notably the Regular Instruction account, which was cut by about $500,000, and the Special Education account, which was pared almost $100,000. Only the Career and Technical education category saw an increase, up about $180,000, reflecting the addition of a satellite program and an increase in the number of students participating in technical education at the Hancock County Technical Center.
Closing the Orland Consolidated School will result in a savings of about $329,000, reflecting staff reductions and operational costs. The RSU school board recommended closing the school earlier this year, and on Monday voters in Orland supported that decision in a referendum vote.
Although the budget is down, only Orland, Prospect and Verona Island will see a decrease in the amount locals pay for education, while Bucksport will see an increase.
The reason for that, Boothby said, is that the RSU funding formula is based 50 percent on population and 50 percent on valuation.
“Bucksport saw a $50 million increase in valuation this year,” he said. “That’s why you see that shift in costs.”
Bucksport will have to raise $5.4 million toward the new budget, $156,000 more than last year, Orland’s assessment is $2.2 million, representing a decrease of $80,000; Prospect, $431,701, down $32,000; and Verona Island, $458,237, down $12,296.
The district’s budget meeting, at which all residents in the four RSU towns will have an opportunity to vote on the budget, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the Bucksport Middle school.