SAD 33’s $3.2 million budget includes cuts in staff, administration

Posted May 25, 2012, at 4:25 p.m.

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — Though the state’s share of education funding for SAD 33 is down nearly 7 percent, school officials have made enough cuts, including in staffing and administration, to propose a budget that will cost taxpayers less than last year.

Voters in SAD 33 will have a chance to review the district’s budget for the upcoming school year during a meeting on May 30.

Fern Desjardins, superintendent of SAD 33, said earlier this week that the school board approved a $3.2 million budget for the 2012-2013 school year on May 17. The proposed budget includes a number of cuts in administration and staff and reductions in general expenses. It also features increases for the gifted and talented program, covers the purchase of new textbooks in math and language arts, makes salary adjustments and covers a 4 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

This year’s budget is down 5.1 percent from the current year, according to Desjardins. More than $175,000 worth of cuts or reductions have been made. The district also has eliminated its debt service with its last debt payment of $171,861 for the St. John Valley Technology Center.

Desjardins said that the cuts include the elimination of a half-time teaching position at Dr. Levesque Elementary School that was not filled with the retirement of a teacher last fall, a half-time one-year teaching position at the middle school, and a half-time computer technology teaching position at the St. John Valley Technology Center. The full-time superintendent’s position also is being reduced to three days weekly beginning Aug. 1.

The state’s share for school funding is down 6.7 percent, or $123,495. Still, Desjardins said that the decrease in the overall budget means local taxpayers will contribute 2.4 percent, or $18,302 less next school year. Of the local share, Frenchville will contribute 43.69 percent and St. Agatha 56.31 percent, based on each town’s valuation.

Frenchville’s contribution to the local share will decrease $8,755 from the current year, and St. Agatha’s contribution will decrease by $9,546.

“For the fourth consecutive year, the district is not raising any additional local funds beyond what is required by the state,” said Desjardins. “In fact, the school board voted to raise only 83.14 percent of the required local contribution.”

Residents of Frenchville and St. Agatha will vote on the district’s budget at the annual meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, at Wisdom Middle/High School.

Residents will go to the polls on June 12 for a referendum vote on the budget approved at the annual meeting. Frenchville will hold the referendum between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Community Center. Poll hours in St. Agatha will be the same with voting to take place at the town office.

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