OXFORD – SAD 17 directors unanimously approved a $36 million budget for fiscal 2009, paving the way for voter approval next month. The budget is about $619,000, or 1.7 percent, higher than the current budget.

The action taken by the board at its Monday night meeting includes about $1,040,000 worth of cuts in personnel, programs and other areas, including elimination of 12 teaching positions through retirements and resignations, and it adds one middle school special education teaching post.

Voters in the eight SAD 17 member towns will be presented with the budget in a town meeting budget hearing at 7 p.m. June 5 to decide if the budget will be presented to voters at a June 10 referendum. The budget will be presented to voters at the hearing in at least nine articles, but voters at the referendum will only vote yes or no on the total number.

If approved, the 12 teaching positions eliminated will save the district $480,000. Of those positions, two are at Rowe Elementary in Norway, two at Oxford Elementary, one at Paris Elementary, one at Harrison Elementary, three at Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris, and three at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

Additionally, one middle school library educational technician will be eliminated along with 1.5 educational technicians at the Otisfield and Waterford elementary schools, a lead mechanic, and one central office support position, and another $15,000 will be cut from the athletic department.

The budget also calls for the elimination of $10,000 from adult education, the elimination of elementary summer school, field trips, the delay of high school security upgrades and other reductions including some staff development, repairs and maintenance, bus purchases and stipends.

Business Manager Cathy Fanjoy said Wednesday that a problem this year has been a $700,000 increase in the cost of heating oil and diesel fuel. Although officials were able to lock into a fuel cost last year, Fanjoy said it has been impossible to do so for the next school year because of escalating fuel costs.

Oxford and Waterford will be hardest hit in assessments due to increasing property values, said Fanjoy. Waterford’s property values went up 22.7 percent over the past fiscal year while Oxford saw a 15.8 percent increase. The state average increase was 11.46 percent, according to school officials. The increase means Oxford will see a 1.7 percent increase in town assessments for the school budget and Waterford a 7.8 percent increase.

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