Saco would save money by withdrawing from regional school district, report says

Posted Oct. 16, 2013, at 1:04 p.m.

SACO, Maine — According to a financial report commissioned by the city’s withdrawal committee, Saco would save money if it were to withdraw from Regional School Unit 23.

In November, residents of Saco will vote on whether to pull out of the RSU and approve the proposed withdrawal agreement from the city’s withdrawal committee.

David Shorette of Purdy Powers, the firm the withdrawal committee hired to conduct a financial report, gave a brief overview of a financial projection on costs for the city over the next three years, should it withdraw from the RSU.

Another report, giving the costs for Saco to stay in the RSU over the next three years, will be out later this week, said Shorette.

The current tax levy for Saco is about $20 million.

According to his findings, Shorette said that if Saco withdraws from the RSU, it would save a total of nearly $1.4 million in the first three years.

“The report was put together based on a hypothetical event,” said Shorette. “Because of that, there are assumptions.”

One of the assumptions made in the report is that Dayton, which is also facing a withdrawal vote from the RSU, would withdraw from the RSU, join Saco in a school unit and would pay nearly 11 percent of costs for Saco Middle School and the central office.

The report also makes assumptions on increases in salary as well as electricity, fuel and other expenditures.

Resident Kevin Roche said there were concerns at Young School about moisture problems and lack of technology and complaints of cold lunches because there’s no cafeteria. The Purdy Powers report listed proposed improvement projects in the other Saco schools and the central office, but there was no mention of any such costs for Young School.

Withdrawal Committee member and City Councilor Marston Lovell said this was a pro forma statement, not a budget. Lovell said though a future school board will likely make Young School a priority, the withdrawal committee can’t speak for a future school board.

“We can’t be so presumptuous as to tell the new school board what they should be doing,” he said.

Saco resident and RSU Board Vice Chairwoman Beth Johnston said she would have liked to have the report on financial projections of withdrawal and the report on financial projections of staying in RSU at the same time, so she could review and compare the reports.

“It would have been wonderful to have the two reports side by side,” said Shorette, but the project was started in September, and he said the firm worked as fast as they could with providing due diligence.

Johnston said she thought work on the report should have begun earlier, so it could be completed in time for people to digest the information before the November vote. Withdrawal committee member Vangel Cotsis said there has been criticism about the timing of the report, but it couldn’t be commissioned until the committee had a finalized withdrawal proposal.

To view a copy of the Purdy Powers report, click here.

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