Cuts to RSU 26 budget may include Orono’s JV field hockey; Glenburn, Veazie push to withdraw from district
VEAZIE, Maine — The RSU 26 Finance Committee will hand a list of recommended cuts to the school district’s board of directors at a meeting Wednesday night. If the changes are accepted, the district would be less than $150,000 away from closing its $2 million budget gap.
The cuts range from cutting junior varsity field hockey at Orono High School to eliminating and consolidating positions at each school to putting off repairs and equipment replacements.
The board of directors meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Orono High School cafeteria.
If the board passes the reductions, any remaining shortfall would be passed on to the towns, which would need to fund the difference in order to meet the schools’ budget requirements — most likely through a tax increase.
Meanwhile, residents in Glenburn and Veazie are passing around petitions in attempts to pull their towns out of the school district.
Veazie resident Rob Tomlinson has formed a committee, along with four others, that has submitted language for a ballot initiative that calls for withdrawal from RSU 26. If the language is accepted by the town, the committee would need signatures from 10 percent of the Veazie residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election, which works out to 88 signatures, according to Tomlinson.
Gathering those signatures would send the bid for withdrawal before voters.
Tomlinson said Tuesday night that Veazie has received the raw end of the school district deal and is spending more money to have less control over its school and its funding.
“We came in with money and now we have none,” he said.
“Right now, people have a lot of energy about getting out [of the school district],” Tomlinson said, adding that the petition committee will still have to take a close look at the numbers, “get past the emotion, and make sure we’re making the right decisions.”
Glenburn Town Council Chairman Michael O’Connor said Tuesday night that he has heard about a petition being distributed to residents in the past week or two.
During a finance committee meeting Tuesday night, members said they’ve done all they can to dull the pain cuts will cause to the towns and especially the students.
“This committee has put forth a tremendous effort to get together something we can live with,” said Lisa Buck, a committee member who represents Orono on the board of directors.
Also at the meeting, Superintendent Douglas Smith announced that the Orono Town Council has selected Leo Kenney, a former board member, to fill a vacant Orono seat on the board.