FARMINGTON – SAD 9 officials took issue Tuesday with what they said was inaccurate and misleading information put out in a citizens’ pamphlet.

Directors also took issue with David Hargreaves, who spearheaded the establishment of an advisory committee in New Vineyard, after Hargreaves called SAD 9 Superintendent Michael Cormier “Mikey.”

Several directors called it “disrespectful.”

Hargreaves and members of the citizens’ committee made pamphlets to give information out to the public using either estimates or last year’s information on the proposed $21.2 million spending plan for 2003-04. The group formed at the municipal level to review SAD 9’s proposed $21.2 million spending plan for 2003-04, which reflects less than a 2.1 percent increase over the current budget.

Both sides expressed frustration Tuesday during a public hearing on the proposed spending package. Advisory committee members say they’re frustrated with rising costs of education that increases taxes. School officials say they are frustrated with the group’s distribution of hundreds of two-sided pamphlets that they say contain wrong information.

Cormier presented directors with a one-page memo to correct the misinformation circulating through the SAD 9 community. Following are the points outlined in the memo:

• The board adopted a budget for presentation on April 29, not April 22 as written in the pamphlet. Directors adopted the proposed budget tentatively on April 15, which was reduced on April 29, Cormier said.

• Increases in teachers’ salaries for 2003-04 total $324,325, not $635,000 as written in the pamphlet.

• Teachers pay a portion of their health insurance with the amount depending upon the type of coverage and plan that they have. No teachers or administrators have their health insurance coverage fully paid by the district. Everyone pays a portion of the premium, which ranges from $450 to $2,470 per year depending on the plan and bargaining unit. “There are no district health insurance plans that cost the taxpayers in excess of $12,000 per year,” Cormier’s memo stated. The average health insurance premium per employee is $5,813.

Cormier also noted Tuesday that the initial draft budget contained estimates for health insurances that were reduced once the district received the premium costs from the insurance company.

• Administrative salaries listed in the leadership article are around $870,000, which is “significantly less than the published figure” of $1.185 million. The amount of money covers the salaries of 15 administrators at both the building and system level. The leadership article also contains money for 19 support staff positions.

• Administrative fringe benefits total about $120,000, not the $220,000 that was published in the pamphlet, Cormier said.

Cormier also said that retirement plans for teachers are a function of state government and do not directly impact the local budget. The pamphlet stated that “on top of generous salaries and health and dental insurance packages” that SAD 9 “teachers enjoy,” they also receive very lucrative taxpayer funded retirement benefits.

• During the first vote on June 11, 2002, nine out of the 12 articles passed by 54 percent to 63 percent. The foundation allocation and additional local assessment articles passed at the second vote in July by 51 percent and 55 percent.

The leadership article failed with 41 percent, 46 percent and 50 percent of the referendum votes.

Director Jo Josephson said the district turned to a districtwide town-meeting style vote after the leadership article was rejected a third time because it was costing taxpayers money.

• The New Vineyard Budget Advisory Committee is not endorsing nor affiliated with the SAD 9 Board of Directors, Cormier said. They serve as an ad hoc committee comprised mainly of residents of New Vineyard.

Hargreaves said after the meeting that his group had different people working on different aspects of the budget and that he planned to get to the bottom of the discrepancies. In some cases, estimates were used for figures in the pamphlets.

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