RSU 58 in good financial shape

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PHILLIPS — Regional School Unit 58 directors received good news Thursday night: The district is financially healthy.

Roger Lebreux and Amy Chasse of Runyon Kersteen Ouellette, a South Portland accounting firm, provided the annual review of the district’s finances and account balances. The audit included strengths, weaknesses and any areas of potential improvement. Part of the annual review determines whether account revenues are staying ahead of expenses. Even the school lunch program received scrutiny.

“I can’t tell you how many school districts struggle to keep their school lunch balances in the positive,” Lebreux told the board, “but you have a healthy balance.”

Lebreux noted that because the district is small and rural, some of administrative and staff functions ordinarily handled by separate individuals in larger districts are not possible for RSU 58. That could be interpreted as a negative factor, but the district has operated successfully with limitations and does not have the option of hiring another person to share the duties.

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In other matters, the district offers teachers a 403(b) retirement plan, according to Superintendent Susan Pratt. The board approved a proposal to update the plan’s information. The last review was about 10 years ago.

Pratt also told directors that the Maine Department of Education has approved the district’s first part of a two-part application to be a member of the Western Maine Regional Service Center. The department will pay for the seven-district partnership’s legal consultations as negotiations move ahead in the second stage of the plan.

Board member Kim Robinson volunteered to participate in upcoming meetings on the partnership with other district board members and administrators. The goal is to find cost-sharing alternatives and save on administrative expenses.

The district also is part of a grant application process that could allow RSU 58 to partner with other school districts to pay for leadership training, alternative education planning and standards analysis review. The Maine DOE has offered FEDES (Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services) grants to encourage more efficient delivery of education programs and services. Districts apply collaboratively, and the funding will be shared equally. There are 19 applications for the same funds around the state, and Pratt said the district has a good chance of being a recipient.

Directors reviewed current enrollments and changes during the past month. Pratt said 31 students from other districts pay tuition to attend RSU 58 schools through mutual superintendents’ agreements. RSU 58 sends 16 students to other schools through the same agreements.

Also on Thursday, Maggie Nerney Adams received the district’s employee of the month award for her longstanding dedication to her students and professional excellence. She is the English language arts teacher at Kingfield Elementary School.

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