RSU 16 freezes discretionary spending

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MINOT — The RSU 16 Committee on Monday heard from Superintendent Mike Wilhelm about measures taken to cover the loss of more than $113,000 in state education funds.

Wilhelm said he has frozen all discretionary spending, affecting about $188,000 earmarked for supplies, books and field trips. He said he also has about $78,000 in the salary account and some money from Central Office accounts that he can apply toward the curtailment.

“I don’t see us having to do anything drastic to meet the $113,000,” he said.

He further noted that it appears an additional $40,000 may be needed to deal with an anticipated overrun in the teachers’ substitute account.

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Wilhelm also reported that the School Committee is going to face some fairly significant increases in the 2014 budget.

He said increases in salaries for teachers and the support staff, as already negotiated, amount to $300,000 and, if health insurance rates go up another 10 percent, that would mean another $450,000 budget hike.

“We also could very well be looking at another $133,000 curtailment in state aid to education, and it appears officials are considering having municipalities pick up some portion of what the state is now contributing toward teacher retirement,” Wilhelm said.

He said he should have a better idea of what the impact of shifting contributions toward staff retirement will have on the budget in a month.

After meeting with the district’s auditor earlier in the meeting, the committee learned it will have a maximum of about $265,000 left over from last year’s budget that could be applied toward next year’s budget.

In other business, the School Committee approved a contract with support staff, effective through the fiscal year 2014. It also decided not to continue formal participation in the Excellence Teacher Incentive Fund 4 Maine Schools after determining the district should be able to proceed with implementation of the program on its own at the Elm Street School without incurring major expenses.

School Committee member Mary Martin, reporting on the search for a new superintendent, said the deadline for submission of applications is Jan. 25. She said she expects the interview process to be completed by the end of March.

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