POLAND — RSU 16’s proposed $18.5 million budget for the 2012-13 school year received overwhelming support at Tuesday’s district budget meeting.

Poland resident and longtime town Budget Committee member Norm Beauparlant thanked the School Committee for having town Budget Committee members take an active part in preparing the school budget.

“The result is a reasonable overall budget for the towns to consider,” Beauparlant said.

The 2012-13 budget is 3.6 percent higher than this fiscal year and asks local taxpayers to come up with $265,000 more than a year ago.

Several residents commented on the clarity of interim Superintendent Michael Wilhelm’s explanation of the balancing act the School Committee went through in creating a budget that had to deal with several factors. They included the loss of federal Job Bill money and increases in health insurance premiums, energy costs, and mandated special education services.

Wilhelm noted the School Committee had met minutes before the Tuesday budget meeting to ratify a teachers’ contract agreement that finally equalizes salaries for teachers at the K – 8 level districtwide.

The agreement reflects a $100,000 increase in what the district will pay for salaries and is fully accounted for in the overall $18.5 million budget voters were being asked to approve.

In response to questions on the amount of teachers’ health insurance being paid by the district, School Committee Chairman Mary Ella Jones explained the contract calls for paying 90 percent of a policy for a single or an adult with child, 86 percent for two adults and 83 percent for a family.

Jones noted that the contract extends through the 2013-14 school year, with a 1 percent salary increase for next year and a 2 percent increase the next, with no step increases either year. Those measure, Jones said, recognize economic realities and offers the district cost stability.

The budget goes to a validation referendum Tuesday, May 15, with voters in Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland going to their town polling places. Polls will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. on May 15. Absentee ballots are available at town offices.

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