Voters to consider near $3.4 million proposed budget

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RANGELEY — Regional School Unit 78, which serves the Rangeley Lakes area, will hold a districtwide budget meeting and vote Tuesday on a proposed $3.35 million budget for 2011-12, Superintendent Brian Foster said Monday.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 24 in gymnasium at Rangeley Lakes Regional School.

Warrant articles are written as open-ended so that voters can either accept the school board’s recommendation, add to it or decrease it.

A referendum vote to validate the budget that is set Tuesday will be held in respective towns on Tuesday, June 7.

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Rangeley Plantation will join Rangeley, Dallas Plantation, Magalloway Plantation and Sandy River Plantation in the RSU 78 district, established on July 1, 2010.

It has been a real challenge to compare costs, Foster said, with the addition of another town.

Another bus driver and increased transportation costs are factored into the spending plan to cover Rangeley Plantation, he said.

The inclusion of Rangeley Plantation’s student enrollments into the funding formula has also made for a decrease in the cost-sharing percentage for three of the towns.

The local foundation allocation and the additional allocation above the state’s essential programs and services funding formula for the district are based on operating costs and student enrollments, he said.

The shared percentages for the 2011-12 budget will be Dallas Plantation, 18.20 percent (21.66 percent 2010-11); Magalloway Plantation, 1.46 percent (2.02 percent 2010-11); Rangeley, 65.78 percent (70.78 percent 2010-11), Rangeley Plantation, 8.74 percent (not in district 2010-11); and Sandy River Plantation is 5.82 percent (4.54 percent 2010-11).

During the board’s budget deliberation, it was recognized that the first RSU 78 budget — the current one, needed to contain about $263,000 of first year costs for summer salaries and benefits, he said.

“While there is an overall decrease in the proposed budget of $68,047.20 in comparison to the 2010-11 budget, when comparing the operating budgets for both years there is an increase of $194,952.90,” Foster said.

The district is considered a minimum receiver and only gets $75,000 from the state to cover 30 percent of the system’s special education costs, he said. Towns in the district have high property valuations.

Among the reductions the school board has included in the budget are instructional supplies, substitutes, communications and technology, he said.

The board also proposes to reduce the business manager position from full time to half time and the school social worker from full time to half time and eliminate a part-time kindergarten through third grade literacy teacher, he said. This represents an overall savings of approximately $195,000, according to budget information.

An additional kindergarten position is also included in the budget due to a projected increase in kindergarten students, Frost said.

There is an alternative education teacher included in the proposal as a pilot program, which will be funded in a large part by money from the federal Jobs Bill, he said.

Other increases factored into the budget are for heating, bus fuel and health insurance costs.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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