Voters approve $22.9M SAD 1 budget

Posted June 01, 2011, at 6:51 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Voters in SAD 1 have approved a $22.9 million budget for the coming school year, district officials confirmed Wednesday.

The budget, which is $586,231 more than last year’s, was approved by the school board in April and by taxpayers during a district referendum vote on May 17.

SAD 1 is composed of the towns of Presque Isle, Castle Hill, Chapman, Mapleton and Westfield.

According to figures provided by the district, Castle Hill residents will see an increase of $757 in their property tax levy; Chapman taxpayers, a $25,411 increase; and Mapleton taxpayers, a $44,829 increase. Westfield’s levy will decrease $6,250. The city of Presque Isle will not see an increase.

A reduction in state aid to education continues to affect the district. District financial figures showed the district will lose $860,181 in state aid next year and the subsidy will be down $1.8 million from what it was just three years ago.

Last year, the district saw a loss of $750,000 in state and federal aid. Officials were forced to eliminate 28 full- and part-time positions to cope, which saved nearly $600,000 in employment-related costs.

Despite the losses, the budget keeps programming intact for another year, although three teaching and three support positions will be eliminated through attrition. The district also has reduced its per-pupil spending even without the state aid.

In SAD 1, per-pupil spending has been consistently 6 percent to 8 percent below the state average. The mill rate for education in the district also has decreased every year for the past five years. The 2011-12 mill rate of 9.87 is 13 percent below the mill rate for education in 2000.

At the same time, the district has garnered accolades for its overall education programs. Presque Isle High School, Zippel Elementary School and Mapleton Elementary School were identified among Maine’s high-performing, efficient schools. The high school was one of only nine out of 105 studied in the state to secure the designation.

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