UNITY, Maine — Although the Regional School Unit 3 board of directors searched for more positions and areas to cut when working up the budget for the school district’s next fiscal year, in the end, they simply couldn’t do it, according to Superintendent Heather Perry.
Last week, the board for the 11-town district approved a proposed $19.4 million budget. The sum represents an increase of 1 percent over the recent fiscal year’s figures and includes the elimination of the indoor track program at Mount View High School.
“The board talked at length about further position cuts,” Perry said Wednesday. “They held the line this year. They felt they had to. That any further cuts would have direct negative impacts to our children.”
Since the 2008 school year, the district has eliminated more than 30 positions, she said.
Because the state is requiring municipalities to fund a larger percentage of education this year, the budget will result in a nearly 2 percent increase on tax assessment for schools in the district’s communities, which include Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo. Altogether, the district has to find about $130,000 to make up for the loss in state subsidy for education.
“The state is basically saying, ‘Locals, you need to pay more,’” Perry said. “I’m always worried about the towns being able to pay more.”
In an effort to save money, the district also is trying to become more efficient with transportation, heating and lights, she said. School staff are planning on upgrading heating controls for some of its buildings so the heat can be remotely turned down on the weekends.
There also will continue to be just one bus run. Perry said that about $500,000 was saved when the district recently went from two bus runs to one
The proposed budget is the result of a lot of hard work, she said, and shows $400,000 less in expenditures than the 2008-09 school year.
“I believe that this was the board of directors’ best attempts to look closely at expenditures and balance the needs of our children with the needs of our taxpayers,” she said.
Voters will be asked to attend the RSU 3 district budget meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at the Mount View Middle School gym. After that, the different towns will hold a referendum vote on the finalized budget on Tuesday, June 10.