April 24, 2018
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School budget down for Deer Isle-Stonington

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

DEER ISLE, Maine — The total school budget for the Deer Isle-Stonington CSD is down this year, but the cost to the towns will go up if the budget is approved as proposed.

The CSD school board last week approved a $6,329,608 budget for the coming school year. According to Superintendent Robert Webster, that represents a decrease of $126,164 or 1.95 percent from the current school year budget.

However, because of a loss of revenues — including federal stimulus funding, Maine Care reimbursements, and a $110,000 state penalty for not consolidating — and a smaller carry-over balance, the amount the towns have to pay toward the budget will increase, Webster said.

The largest reductions in the budget came through the elimination of positions, including a second-grade position and a high school business education post, along with two ed tech jobs — one at the high school and one at the elementary school. The budget also reduces the librarian position to half-time, cuts the technology integration post by one day a week, and pares special ed and assistant cook hours.

The school board also cut funding for the Reach Performing Arts director to 45 percent. According to Webster, however, that position is expected to remain a full-time position since the Friends of the Reach group plans to raise the difference.

The board also cut about $150,000 in smaller amounts from the accounts for supplies, equipment, staff development, maintenance and the school lunch programs.

There also were increases in some accounts. Special Education saw increases to provide programs for a new student in kindergarten and for another student whose program had been funded through federal stimulus funds. Increased fuel costs and a larger number of students traveling to the Hancock County Technical Center in Ellsworth spurred a $36,679 increase in the transportation budget and planned repairs to the school driveway drove the high school maintenance budget $31,209 higher.

Although the total proposed budget is lower than the last, other factors will result in an overall increase to both Deer Isle and Stonington, the superintendent pointed out.

“The budget is down, but it is not down enough compared to the revenue losses,” Webster said Thursday.

The total tax assessment to the two towns is $5,571,877, an increase of $66,000 from the current budget. Most of that increase will be borne by Deer Isle, which has a significantly larger percentage of the enrollment. The formula for determining each town’s share of the budget is based mainly on enrollment figures.

The number of Stonington students in the district schools is expected to drop from 107 to 92 students next year, while Deer Isle’s enrollment also is expected to go down from 240 to 232 students. According to Webster, those changes will mean that Deer Isle will pay about 70 percent of the total assessment for the coming year.

Webster said he has not yet calculated the impact on taxpayers in the two towns for this year. Because the school fiscal year, which runs from July 1-June 20, is different than the towns’ budget year, which mirrors the calendar year, the formula involves combining a portion of the cost of the current year budget with a portion of the 2011-2012 budget. Officials in each town then have to combine the school figures with the individual town budgets approved at town meeting earlier this year before they can set the tax rate.

Voters from the two towns will gather for the annual district budget meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, at the high school to vote on the budget. A budget validation referendum will be held Tuesday, June 14, at the respective town offices. The polls will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


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