Calais School Committee completes budget

Posted Oct. 30, 2013, at 4:11 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — The Calais School Committee has put the finishing touches on the school system’s 2013-14 budget, which will go to the city’s voters on Nov. 5.

Meeting in a special session Tuesday evening, the panel voted 3-2 to eliminate a part-time janitorial position at the Calais Day Treatment Center, a savings of $7,500.

The committee subsequently voted unanimously to adopt a budget for 2013-14 that matches the $8,612,734 proposed budget the City Council decided earlier to put to voters in a referendum.

Superintendent Keith Laser had provided the School Committee with two other budget-cutting options — eliminating a part-time elementary school music teaching position and a janitorial position. Those were rejected by 3-2 votes.

The School Committee voted Oct. 15 to trim spending by endorsing three recommendations from Laser — cutting a part-time art teacher position at the elementary school, reducing the high school librarian from a full-time teacher to an ed-tech position and cutting a Title I teaching position at the elementary school. In a related move, two ed-tech positions from the general budget were moved to the Title I program. The School Committee rejected other spending cuts proposed by Laser and directed him to find other budget savings.

Five days earlier, the School Committee endorsed other cost-cutting moves, approving three furlough days for teachers and a 25 percent reduction in stipends for most advisers and coaches for winter and spring extracurricular activities.

Calais voters twice have rejected the proposed school budget endorsed by the City Council, most recently in August. Since then city councilors agreed to reduce capital spending and made other budget changes to free up more funds for schools, and the School Committee agreed to trim spending.

The proposed school budget on the Nov. 5 ballot includes $573,900 in local funds and is about $300,000 more than the proposed school budget that voters rejected in an August referendum.

The City Council increased the mill rate earlier this year, with about 85 percent of the additional revenue going to schools.

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