NEWPORT, Maine — Regional School Unit 19 Superintendent Greg Potter on Tuesday released a schedule of public meetings to enable school district officials to exchange information with town managers, selectmen and residents about budget problems and another stabilization loan vote.
Potter also amended the proposed winter shutdown dates if the $2.8 million stabilization loan is shot down by voters again.
Because of serious errors in previous budgets, RSU 19 has a $3.6 million shortfall this school year. The district already has cut $1.6 million from the budget for this school year. RSU 19’s board of directors voted to ask voters for a $2.8 million stabilization loan. The district would use $1.5 million to repay its revenue anticipation loan to Androscoggin Bank, while the other $1.3 million would be used to pay bills.
RSU 19 finance manager Jerry Nault, members of the board of directors and Potter will meet with selectmen and residents of the eight towns at six locations.
Potter said he will outline the district’s debt and talk about bills that can’t be paid, the rationale for the districtwide shutdown, what each town’s portion of the loan would be and next year’s budget.
“We really want to give a solid update of where we’re at, why the loan is needed and why we need to repay the [revenue anticipation note] and why cash is needed,” said Potter on Tuesday.
Potter also released a second option for a proposed winter shutdown if the $2.8 million loan isn’t passed by voters. Loan requests of $3.6 million and $2.9 million previously were voted down.
In Potter’s original proposal, the district would shut down from March 15 through April 15, involving the move of 18 schooldays. It also would cancel April vacation by having school during that week.
A second option has been recommended, he said.
The district could shut down from March 25 through April 19, which would include the scheduled April vacation.
In either case, the last day of school would be pushed to July 3.
Potter said the shutdown wouldn’t save much money, but the move would allow the district to better manage its cash flow. Hourly employees would not get paychecks for two pay periods during the shutdown, he said. Instead, they’ll work those days in the summer.
“It will allow us to pay our bills and get caught up with a number of vendors and it will allow us to manage our cash flow because this is an emergency,” Potter said during a previous meeting.
The district is $800,000 in debt to vendors at the moment, he said. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is owed $500,000 of that sum because the district is 60 days behind in its health insurance obligations.
The shutdown will be voted on by the board of directors during its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Nokomis Regional High School. At 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, at the high school, residents of the eight towns again will vote on placement of the $2.8 million loan on a referendum ballot. The loan then would go to vote from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, in the respective towns’ polling places.
The schedule of public meetings is:
— St. Albans, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at St. Albans Consolidated School.
— Newport and Plymouth, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Newport Elementary School.
— Corinna, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Corinna Elementary School.
— Palmyra, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Palmyra Community Center.
— Hartland, 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, at Hartland Consolidated School.
— Etna and Dixmont, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Etna-Dixmont School.