SAD 44 residents to act on $9.2 million budget


BETHEL — Residents of the five-town SAD 44 school district will have a chance on Monday to act on a proposed 2010-11 operating budget that is a $500,000 less than the current year’s.

The vote on the warrant’s 17 articles begins at 7 p.m. in the Telstar Middle-High School auditorium.

The proposed $9,195,000 budget eliminates nearly15 positions, including actual job losses for nine people. It would keep open Andover Elementary School and Woodstock Elementary School at least for the upcoming school year.

Other cuts to the district’s educational program would include a $20,000 reduction in the special education department and the end of the Friday late bus run.

Positions reduced or eliminated would include: reduction of art, French and math positions at the high school from full time to half time; two educational technicians, one custodian, three teachers and a half-time physical education position at the middle school; two and a half secretaries; a half-time transportation position; another custodian; two food service workers; and a maintenance position.

“Everything has been impacted, but nothing has been eliminated,” said Superintendent David Murphy.”All educational programs and extra-curricular activities remain.”

The district’s adult education program would also be reduced by about a third, to $157,182. Cuts were made to the positions of part-time community education coordinator and office support.

Despite the reductions, school taxes would increase in each of the five towns because of higher valuations and a significant drop in state aid: Andover’s share would increase by $51,016, with an impact of an additional $61.50 on homes valued at $100,000; Bethel’s would increase by $222,709, $51.20 on homes valued at $100,000; Greenwood, $120,354, $77.80 on homes valued at $100,000; Newry, $323,605, $75.90 on homes valued at $100,000; and Woodstock, $73,347, $42.90 on homes valued at $100,000.

Murphy said the district has been hit with less state aid, and subsequent lower budgets for several years. The 2010-11 proposed budget is about the same as the approved budget of nearly a decade ago when state aid was three times higher.

“Normally, taxes go up when programs are added,” he said.

He said this isn’t the last year the district will face tough choices because state aid is expected to be reduced even further for fiscal year 2011-12.

Residents will act on the figure adopted on May 24 at a referendum on June 8 in their individual towns. They will also decide whether to extend the two-step budget adoption process for another three years. If voters turn the adoption process down, then future budgets will be acted on at a district-wide budget meeting.

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