Rockland area school chief says that despite budget vote, not all jobs will be restored

Posted Aug. 20, 2013, at 4:01 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The superintendent of Regional School Unit 13 said some of the money added into the 2013-2014 budget for education jobs will be used, but a sizeable portion will be set aside for tax relief a year from now.

Superintendent Lewis Collins said Tuesday that a high school arts post, a high school social studies job and a sixth-grade teaching position at the St. George School will not be filled even though voters last month added money into the district budget.

“The school principals did their job and advocated for their school and staff. I have to take the longer view and as tempting as it may be to rehire an art teacher and social studies teacher at the high school or a sixth-grade teacher at St. George, doing so would only increase our budget woes next spring,” Collins said.

The superintendent said he, the school board and the administrative team were delighted that a budget had been approved before the start of the school year and that citizens supported the students and schools by adding $343,000 into the budget above the board’s recommended amount.

“Because this is potentially, ‘one-time only’ and ‘soft’ money, we need to be very careful about committing the district to any long-term positions. Therefore, any expenditure would be carefully targeted based on enrollment changes and distinct need,” the superintendent said.

He said a third-grade educational technician will be added at the South School, and an additional third-grade classroom teacher may be added at South if enrollment dictates. That decision will be made by Sept. 15.

An educational technician for the sixth grade at the St. George School also will be added. Another $10,000 will be used for the Rockland District Middle School after school program and $26,000 on additional instructional supplies.

The budget was approved Aug. 13 at the polls 737-622. Rockland residents voted overwhelmingly against the budget but St. George residents turned out in large numbers and approved it by a stunningly large margin — 336-45.

St. George residents had lobbied for adding back positions, including teaching jobs at the high school and at St. George.

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