Proposed Rockland area school budget calls for cutting 26 jobs

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted March 26, 2012, at 7:54 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The proposed RSU 13 budget for 2012-2013 calls for cutting 26 jobs.

Even with those cuts, however, more property taxes will be needed from communities in the district.

The budget was unveiled Monday by acting Superintendent Neal Guyer and Business Manager Scott Vaitones after meetings with principals and department heads.

The administrators proposed a budget of $26.5 million, a 2.2 percent increase of $558,536 in spending from the voter-approved 2011-2012 budget. The increase is the result of higher costs associated with new labor contracts approved during the past year, and to cover greater special education costs.

The proposed budget cuts involve 12 teaching positions, eight educational technicians, and six support staffers, including administrative assistants, custodial and maintenance positions. Not all are full-time posts. The full-time equivalents total 21.55 positions.

Vaitones said the teaching cuts include an industrial arts position that serves Thomaston Grammar, St. George, Rockland District Middle and Oceanside West schools. A high school art teacher, an eighth-grade position at St. George, and a kindergarten position at Gilford Butler are posts marked for elimination under the proposed budget.

Vaitones said the people holding those positions were notified Monday but said those people may not end up being the employees who are laid off since employees have bumping rights under the labor contracts. He also said when people leave jobs in midyear they are not being filled from the outside.

The proposed cuts for 2012-2013 follow the elimination of 30 positions two years ago.

The administrators said no additional administration cuts were proposed because of reductions already made in the past three years with the formation of RSU 13 out of neighboring SADs 5 and 50. Additional administration cuts should be made with comment from the next superintendent, the budget message stated.

In addition, the district calls for cutting $760,000 out of supplies, software licenses, workshop and conference travel, equipment and athletics in the 2012-2013 budget.

The administrators made their formal budget presentation Monday night at the McLain School.

The administrators said there were several significant factors making the development of this budget difficult while meeting the directive of the board from a few months ago to keep the spending increase to no more than 4 percent of the current school year budget.

The district already is spending $500,000 more for special education this year than was budgeted. That increase occurred after parents and an advocacy organization for special education students said they did not feel the district had been meeting the needs of some students. The administrators said those extra costs incurred this year are expected to continue into the 2012-2013 budget and total $700,000 because two additional RSU 13 students expected to have to be placed in programs outside the district.

Also, the new contracts approved by the board over the past year for employees will add $225,000 in wages. Health insurance costs will add another $245,000 to the budget.

“Personnel cost accounts for about 73 to 75 percent of our total budget, and is one of the best investments that we make in supporting education. RSU 13 is exceedingly fortunate to have a dedicated and talented cadre of professionals and support staff,” the administrators stated in its message to the board and staff.

The loss of $470,000 in federal stimulus money and $370,000 in state education subsidies also have created a challenge for the district, the administrators said.

RSU 13 includes Rockland, Thomaston, St. George, Cushing, South Thomaston and Owls Head.

Even with the cuts made by the administration, every community will have to raise additional property taxes to support the budget. Rockland is projected to have to raise an additional $321,133, or 4.5 percent, in 2012-2013. St. George will have to pay an additional $142,328, or 3.5 percent; Thomaston an additional $133,172, or 4.3 percent; Owls Head $131,669, or 5.8 percent; South Thomaston $118,061, or 4.9 percent, more; and Cushing $7,390, or 0.3 percent, more than in the current year.

“There are hard hits for towns like Rockland,” Vaitones said.

Budget meetings are scheduled for March 28, April 2, 4, 9, 11 and 23 with adoption expected at the April 23 meeting. The districtwide budget meeting is scheduled for May 29 and a referendum vote on June 12.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/26/news/midcoast/proposed-rockland-area-school-budget-calls-for-cutting-26-jobs/ printed on December 24, 2014