Guilford-area school system prepares to name new superintendent, send budget to voters

Posted May 31, 2013, at 9:57 p.m.

GUILFORD, Maine — All 17 articles of SAD 4’s proposed 2013-2014 budget were passed in just 26 minutes during the district budget meeting on Thursday evening.

The $7.24 million budget will move to a referendum ballot where residents in Abbot, Cambridge, Guilford, Parkman, Sangerville and Wellington will vote on June 11.

The next day, a new superintendent likely will be named.

Next year’s budget of $7,240,311.99 represents a 1.09 percent increase over this year’s $7,162,022.36 budget, said Superintendent Paul Stearns, who is retiring.

In order to have even a modest increase, Stearns said cuts had to be made.

“In the last five years, we’ve lost $710,000 from our annual subsidy from the state. We’ve either had to make cuts, which we have, or pass that on to the local property taxpayers,” said Stearns.

Stearns said 2.5 full-time equivalent teaching positions in pre-kindergarten through grade six were cut. Additionally, one guidance counselor position, one licensed social worker position and two ed tech positions were cut.

But because five teachers are either retiring or leaving on their own, said Stearns, “a bulk of the [cuts] were handled through attrition. I think around three people will be affected profoundly.”

Residents are required to pay $3,128,432.50 of the budget amount, which is an increase from last year’s figure of $2,982,980.01. The rest will be funded by a state allocation of $3,304,447.57, which is a $165,327 decrease from the current school year.

The middle school “B” basketball teams for both boys and girls were cut from next year’s proposed budget. A cap will now be placed on pre-kindergarten as well.

“We currently offer pre-K to anyone in the district. With one of our teaching positions being cut in pre-K, a halftime teacher, we are now capping the number of pre-K students at 34,” he said.

A different scheduling system also is helping get the most of our the staff, Stearns said.

“We’re trying to make lemonade out of lemons,” he said. “We’re increasing course offerings by restructuring staff and using a new schedule. We’re finding more efficient ways of using the current staff.”

For instance, he said, “We’ll have daily math and language arts in grades seven through nine. That will be new for next year. Normally, it was every other day. We think that will be very helpful to a lot of students.”

Guilford residents will absorb nearly a third of the cost of education next year, a total of $1,028,315.76. Sangerville taxpayers will pay $676,054.26, followed by Abbot at $624,122.28, Parkman at $441,108.98, Cambridge at $199.906.84 and Wellington at $158.924.37.

Adult education adds just under $40,000 to the total.

On June 12, the SAD 4 board of directors will vote on a new superintendent candidate. Stearns’ last day is on Sept. 30.

“We’re looking forward to a smooth transition,” said Stearns.

The final candidate interview has been completed, he said, but did not offer any other information.

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