SALEM – A loss in state aid has forced SAD 58 to look at budget efficiencies in all areas.

At a public hearing on the school budget Tuesday, SAD 58 Superintendent Quenten Clark noted that the district lost $128,000 in subsidy for not complying with Maine’s school consolidation law. This year’s school budget is $10,157,642, an increase over last year of about $300,000 due to accounting changes required by the state, Clark said.

“The reason the budget did not go up very much was a reduction in the price of oil, and the other thing is the administrators are stretched,” he noted, explaining that cutting an administrative salary nearly 50 percent reduced the budget.

Kingfield resident and Selectman Merv Wilson said his concern was that not enough money was being included for teacher salaries. He noted that the budget didn’t take into account wage negotiations for teachers.

“We’re saving $115,000 in fuel, and we’re not budgeting money for teachers,” he said. “Where is that money going?”

Clark responded that teacher contracts haven’t been negotiated yet, and added that there is more money going to the hot lunch program and school instructional accounts. There has also been a 3 percent raise in the maintenance staff’s contract.

Wilson asked if teachers had been given 90 days notice that they could lose their jobs, and Clark confirmed they had.

“Given the unknowns, it seemed prudent to let people know their jobs might not be there next year, the operative word being might,” Clark said. “If there is no raise (in teachers’ salaries) at all, we will not be laying off teachers.”

The specific budget amounts include $35,000 for adult education; $1,674,565 for facilities and maintenance; $784,965 for transportation and buses; $3,507,989 for regular instruction; $1,485,365 for special education; $167,707 for other instruction; $940,494 for student and staff support; $298,237 for system administration; $478,763 for debt service and other commitments; and $36,000 for all other expenditures.

There will be a district budget meeting at 6:30 p.m. June 11 at Mt. Abram High School cafeteria. Once the budget amounts are finalized, a referendum will be held June 16 in all SAD 58 towns to validate the budget.

In other business, SAD 58 is looking to buy about 1.5 buses each year to keep up with state requirements.

“The problem with that is in 2011, we’re going to hit a wall,” Clark said. “Money from the federal government to the state, in the form of stimulus, is going to run out. That’s why we’re buying buses now.”

Wilson suggested consolidating some bus routes to save on bus maintenance and fuel.

At the regular school board meeting following the public hearing, there was some discussion regarding a four-day music trip to New York City for SAD 58 band and chorus students near the end of this school year. Kingfield Elementary School Principal Brenda Stevens explained that some parents had expressed concerns to her about not knowing about the trip far enough in advance, lack of a specific itinerary, and the trip’s base cost.

Students are raising funds for the trip, and there is some money left in an account from prior music trips. Depending on how many students go, the base cost will vary from a little more than $1,000 to slightly less than $800.

The board had approved the trip at a prior meeting. While it decided not to vote on it again, members agreed that such trips should be reviewed more carefully in the future so students who couldn’t afford the cost wouldn’t get left out.


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