BETHEL – The SAD 44 board unanimously adopted a $9.96 million budget for 2009-10, a nearly $300,000 drop from the current fiscal year.

But despite the decrease, Superintendent David Murphy said homeowners in all but one district town will see an increase in their school taxes because of the hike in state valuation and the subsequent drop in state aid to education.

If the proposed budget is approved by voters at a districtwide meeting in late May or early June, then validated at a referendum June 9, taxes on each $100,000 of assessed property value would increase as follows: Andover, $0; Bethel, $39.03; Greenwood, $49.22; Newry, $37.16; and Woodstock, $29.61.

To lower the school budget, Murphy said the following moves would be made:

• Eliminate one elementary and one high school English teacher position.

• Eliminate stipends for wing leaders at Crescent Park Elementary School.

• Move a half-time health coordinator to an open physical education position.

• Move a secretarial position at the central office to Crescent Park.

• Eliminate the 4 p.m. late bus run.

• Eliminate a half-time industrial arts position.

• Pare down the approximately $36,000 originally slated for the purchase of equipment and supplies.

Murphy credited the Region 9 School of Applied Technology with also reducing SAD 44’s costs because of the amount of carryover it plans to use in its own budget.

“We tried to protect as many jobs as possible,” Murphy said.

Despite the cuts, a shifting in staff responsibilities and at least one retirement resulted in one person losing a job.

He said federal stimulus money may change some of the cuts. He will meet with representatives from the governor’s office and the Department of Education on Friday to discuss the federal funds.

“We’ve had several years when we’ve had to struggle with the budget because of reductions in state aid,” he said.

He said the proposed budget not only reduces the total amount requested last year by $300,000, but also absorbs fixed costs such as a negotiated staff increase of 3 percent.

The board will meet May 11 to discuss stimulus money implications.

In other matters at Monday’s meeting, the board approved a three-year contract with the district’s approximately 50 support staff. Approved were salary increases of 2 percent during the first year, 2.5 percent during the second, and 3 percent during the third. Support staff includes bus drivers, maintenance workers and nutrition service employees.

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