Budget cuts, reorganization on the table at Knox County school district meetings Tuesday

Posted May 25, 2014, at 5:44 a.m.

Knox County residents will have the opportunity to shape their school district budgets Tuesday.

District budget meetings are scheduled Tuesday evening for Regional School Unit 13, which consists of six communities, The Five Town Community School District, School Administrative District 28 and School Administrative District 40.

RSU 13 — Rockland, Thomaston, St. George, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing — is scheduled to gather at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Oceanside High School East in Rockland for its district budget meeting. Any registered voter can vote at the session, and voter registration officials will be in attendance before the meeting to register new people.

The overall 2014-15 budget was recommended unanimously by the school board at $27,103,985 — a decrease of $126,788 from the 2013-14 budget.

Despite the decrease, RSU 13 will need to raise an additional 4 percent in property taxes from the communities. The increase is due to a decrease of about $1.2 million in revenue, much of that from a sharp drop in available surplus.

The budget cuts one elementary foreign language teacher, an industrial technology position at Oceanside West, one library media position at the kindergarten through seventh grades, a South School social worker, an industrial technology educational technician, an administrative assistant at Oceanside High School West and an educational technician at Oceanside West.

The board also agreed to support a reorganization of the district administration to solicit a candidate to fill the Oceanside High School East principalship being vacated by Tom Forti but have the Oceanside West vacancy be filled by Thomaston Grammar School Principal Susan Stillwell, who will retain the principalship of the grammar school adjacent to the high school.

Stillwell will give up the principalship of the Owls Head Central School, and that job will be taken over by Neal Guyer, the director of school improvement.

The reorganization will save one administrator position.

The SAD 40 budget meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro. SAD 40 consists of Warren, Union, Friendship, Washington and the Lincoln County town of Waldoboro.

The budget is proposed at $22,893,569, up about 3 percent. But $200,000 of the $746,000 increase is a bookkeeping change, in which MaineCare reimbursement is moved from a separate account to the general budget and is offset by revenues.

The proposed budget would eliminate a half-time teaching position at the high school. Two teaching positions at the middle school are also being cut. A teacher filling one of those positions is retiring and another will be coming back from a sabbatical.

The elementary schools are losing library educational technician time, which may cut one or two positions while the others would remain full-time.

Physical education, art and music will be reduced by one day at Warren Community School.

One assistant principal position at Medomak Valley High School and one at Medomak Middle School are being changed from half-time to full-time.

Two prekindergarten teaching positions and two prekindergarten educational technician positions are being added — two at Warren and two at Miller School in Waldoboro. This is the start of a prekindergarten program in the district.

And a teaching-instructor position is being added at the Friendship Village School. Friendship currently shares a principal with Miller School.

The proposed budget would result in Warren paying an additional $114,000 to the school district, bringing its total assessment to SAD 40 to about $3.5 million. Waldoboro would pay about $60,000 less, reducing its assessment to less than $4.6 million. Union will pay about $2,000 more, Friendship $34,000 more and Washington about $15,000 less.

The SAD 28 budget meeting — kindergarten through eighth grade in Camden and Rockport — is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 27, at Strom Auditorium at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport.

That will be followed by the Five Town Community School District meeting at 7 p.m. Five Town CSD oversees the high school for Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and the Waldo County town of Lincolnville.

The SAD 28 budget for 2014-15 is proposed at a little more than $12.5 million, a less than 2 percent increase in expenditure. Increased revenues, however, will limit the projected property tax increase caused by school spending to 1.2 percent.

The proposed Five Town CSD budget for 2014-15 adds up to nearly $11.9 million, an increase of nearly 4 percent — about $450,000.

The budgets approved at these meetings will then go on the June 10 ballot to be decided by each community.

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