JAY — Members of the regional school planning committee met Tuesday at Jay Middle School and unanimously approved recommendations for an equitable way to share costs as presented by the group's Finance Sub-Committee.
Jay Superintendent Robert Wall and RSU 36 Superintendent Susan Pratt presented options discussed by the sub-committee that chose town valuations over numbers of students as being the fairest means for each of the three member towns, Jay, Livermore Falls and Livermore.
At this point, it's a conceptual thing, Wall explained, describing formulas that could be used for cost sharing of the budget above state funding including those based on valuations, student count or a combination of both.
“We looked at what is the most balanced formula,” Pratt explained of the committee's work. “If we enter into an agreement, it should be fair and not partial to either Jay or Livermore Falls.”
The recommendation included town valuation for the first five years after which the new regional school system would review the method every five years and decide how to continue. The recommendation also included the new RSU accepting the costs of only the local debt for the new Livermore Falls Elementary School, bus leases, technology leases and Jay High School roof bond.
Other expenses incurred before July 1, 2011, would be up to either school district, Wall said. Under the new plan, the committee recommends that any new capital debt not finalized by that date should remain the responsibility of the school that incurred the debt, he said.
Other recommendations for the school plan include that all fund balances and reserve funds including grants and scholarships be transferred to the new RSU within 60 days. Scholarships would be limited to the potential recipients named by the scholarship unless there are other provisions set up by the donor.
Member and Jay School Board Chair Mary Redmond-Luce asked for a specific, very clear policy on how scholarships are administered but Pratt suggested once the new RSU is formed, that board could change things and set policies more easily.
The committee also recommended that each school meet their financial obligations to employees not coming to the RSU and each pay for summer salaries.
State penalties for not previously uniting and "looming shortfalls" affect the budget whether the schools are alone or together, Wall said. State subsidy revenue estimates for upcoming years are projected to decrease.
“Together we'll weather the storm better,” he added.
Although the rules change all the time, the message from the state is to get your communities together, he said.
“That's the only way small school systems are going to survive,” he said.