HODGDON, Maine — Only a handful of residents turned out Thursday evening to approve a $6,238,644 spending package for SAD 70 in a meeting that lasted just 30 minutes. The budget will now go to a referendum vote on June 14 for residents of Amity, Cary, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Linneus, Ludlow and New Limerick.
About eight members of the public joined 10 school board members in approving the warrant articles, most of which generated little to no discussion at the Hodgdon High School gymnasium.
It was a far cry from last year’s district budget hearing, which packed the school’s gymnasium for several hours. That budget, while down in terms of tax dollars, featured several cuts, which sparked concerns from the public.
As presented, spending for the 2011-12 budget is up $180,000, or 2.9 percent, from last year. Because the district is receiving less money from the state, and also lost $78,464 in federal stimulus money, the actual increase in local tax dollars that need to be raised is $209,557.
It marks the first time in three years that the district has presented a fiscal document that featured an increase over the previous year. Last year’s budget of $6,058,644 featured a decrease of $190,205, while the 2009-10 plan had a decrease of $140,000.
Board Chairman Estela Lane served as moderator for the meeting. She explained that among the major increases in the budget is the purchase of a new bus, estimated at about $82,000. The district will get some of that money back next year in the form of a state reimbursement. A major increase in the cost of fuel — both heating and gasoline-diesel — was another factor for the additional expenses.
Modest increases in salaries, based on expectations from staff negotiations, have been included in the proposed budget. Minor repairs to the high school gymnasium ceiling are also factored into the budget.
A new technology integrator position has also been created for the district.
“This position would be a person to come in and help integrate all of the technology that we have in the classrooms, from Smart Boards to laptops and Nooks,” Superintendent Bob McDaniel said. “This is a position that the board felt was needed to better utilize the technology we have. This person will work with both teachers and students to make sure they are using this technology to its fullest potential.”
The district will use $500,000 from its carryover account to help lessen the blow. Last year, the district used $205,500 from its carryover account.