MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska School Committee is one step closer to a proposed budget for the current fiscal year following a briefing by outgoing Superintendent Terry Wood.
Wood, who tendered her resignation Aug. 1, told committee members she would have a final proposal ready for their consideration before her resignation becomes effective this Friday.
Board members accepted Wood’s resignation at an Aug. 7 special meeting by a 3-2 vote.
At that same meeting, the school committee endorsed a sanction against the Madawaska Education Association, blaming members of that teachers’ association for creating the environment leading to Wood’s resignation.
During Monday’s meeting Wood told the committee she is prepared to propose a budget with $250,000 in reduction to the local tax effort.
“If the [the school committee’s] intent is to not raise local taxes, we have done that,” she said.
However, the preliminary numbers do not include $150,000 owed to the town of Madawaska representing the school department’s share of the $300,000 tax abatement granted to Twin Rivers Paper in Fiscal Year 2012-2013
Failure to incorporate voter-mandated cuts into the school budget last year left administrators, teachers and school committee members amending and re-amending the budget before it was finally approved by residents in January. More than 20 percent of the 43-member faculty was eliminated as the community faced heavy tax revenue losses because of the property tax abatements granted to Twin Rivers Paper Co.
Work immediately began in January but has yet to be completed on the current budget for the fiscal year which started July 1.
Over the summer, the retirement of three teachers decreased the number of faculty members eliminated, according to Madawaska High School Principal Wayne Anderson.
Not all committee members believed the $150,000 owed as the FY 2012-2013 abatement share should have been omitted from the proposed budget.
“We want that paid up,” committee Vice Chairman Yves Dube said Monday. “We were clear on that.”
Committee Chairman Roger Thibodeau agreed, saying, “That $150,000 should stay in the budget.”
However, after some discussion Thibodeau indicated he would support a warrant article on the town budget meeting warrant asking if voters would forgive that payment for a period of time.
“We are not saying we are not going to pay it,” he said. “We just can’t afford to pay it now.”
Following an executive session, the committee voted to immediately begin a search for an interim superintendent to cover the next three months and then begin a search for a permanent replacement.