Rockland area school budget sees little change heading to final board vote

Posted April 23, 2013, at 6:22 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Regional School Unit 13 Board will take a final vote on the proposed 2013-2014 budget at its May 2 meeting with little changes made since the superintendent released his proposed package three weeks ago.

The proposal to eliminate or reduce 14 positions remains intact as does the addition of several positions.

The only significant changes made since Superintendent Lewis Collins unveiled the budget on April 1 was a repackaging of the way costs for security changes would be paid. The $113,000 in school safety improvements such as surveillance cameras will be leased and paid over four years rather than purchased and paid all in one year.

The amount of projected revenues was increased by about $100,000, reducing the increase in property tax hikes that would result from the school district budget.

The proposed budget has been trimmed to $27.2 million and represents a 2.7 percent ($713,000) increase in spending from the approved 2012-2013 budget.

The amount to be raised in property taxes districtwide is up 3.4 percent.

Rockland will shoulder the largest share of the increase with its assessment from the district increasing $359,000. Under the proposed budget, Owls Head will pay an additional $170,000 to the school district, Cushing an additional $87,000, Thomaston an additional $81,000, South Thomaston $50,000 more and St. George about $1,000 more.

The greatest number of staff cuts would come from Oceanside High School East in Rockland, where the proposed budget calls for the elimination of a classroom art teaching position, a social studies teacher and a resource room teacher, as well as the reduction of a technology teacher to half-time.

At Oceanside West in Thomaston, a social studies teaching position would be eliminated and an interventionist teacher’s post would be reduced to half-time.

Three elementary classroom teachers also would be cut — two at the South School in Rockland and one at the St. George School.

Board Vice Chairman Loren Andrews said Monday night that the cuts were going too far and would have an impact on programs and the education of students.

Collins said Monday night that he believes that two teachers at the high school will lose their jobs while at the lower grades he does not expect any layoffs because of retirements.

The budget also calls for the addition of several positions. The new positions include a behavioral clinic coordinator for special education, a half-time development director to write grant applications for the district, a half-time Webmaster and a half-time laptop initiative coordinator.

The board took “straw poll” votes to arrive at the revised budget but the formal votes will come at its Thursday, May 2, meeting.

The board rejected the superintendent’s proposal to merge the district’s middle schools in Thomaston and Rockland as a way to save an estimated $500,000.

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