LIVERMORE FALLS — RSU 73 directors voted 8-3-1 Thursday to approve a $19 million budget for 2012-13. It goes to voters June 5.

Chairwoman Denise Rodzen of Livermore Falls, Directors Cindy Young and Diane Castonguay-Gould, both of Livermore, opposed the vote. Director Darcie Comstock of Jay abstained.

The proposed spending plan is $613,870 more than the current $18.4 million budget and $101,323 more than the $18.9 million administrators’ budget.

A districtwide budget meeting, similar to an open town meeting, to set amounts for each warrant article will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the Spruce Mountain High School South Campus cafeteria in Livermore Falls.

Voters in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls will get a second chance at the budget during a validation vote Tuesday, June 12.

Prior to the budget discussion, Lynn Ouellette, president of the Regional School Unit 73 Education Association, backed up by members of the Association standing in the audience, read a letter from the association pertaining to the proposed budget.

“It is prudent at this point that the Board understand the implications of approving the budget as proposed,” Ouellette said. “In this proposal there is a reduction in the number of teaching positions. It is the Board’s prerogative to support a budget in which teaching positions may be eliminated. However, it is a contractual obligation to decide how the staff to be laid-off will be determined. At this time, there is no agreement between the Board and the Association on how this process will occur.”

The two groups have not approved one contract to serve RSU 73 teachers since consolidation took place on July 1, 2011. There are two contracts, one for staff from RSU 36 and the other from staff from Jay School Department.

The reason for the inequities in layoff procedures lies in consolidation, she said.

“Notable differences in the two contracts that would affect who would be laid-off came to light during preparation for the combining of the two middle school,” Ouellette said in the letter. “The Association came to an agreement with the Board that ‘No decisions on teacher reduction in force would be made until either a contract or a side agreement on reduction in force is in place.’ We also agreed that we would start our negotiations with this issue in September (2011), so that we would have language to use before any layoffs were to occur,” Ouellette’s letter stated.

The Association has met with the board on six occasions and reached a tentative agreement on some language before coming to an impasse, Ouellette said.

“We have now met with a mediator twice and are still nowhere near an agreement,” she said.

Superintendent Robert Wall notified the Association on May 1 of his intent to use the two separate teacher contracts to determine layoffs, Ouellette said.

This does not honor the procedural agreement of Aug. 15, she said, and will likely adversely impact teachers of RSU 73 who are currently working or previously worked under the RSU 36 contract language.

The Association pledged to defend its position and the tentative agreement that all layoffs must be accomplished by years of continuous experience in any position in either Jay or RSU 36, according to current certifications and/or endorsements.

Livermore Falls Middle School teachers who moved over to the consolidated Spruce Mountain Middle School are now working under the Jay contract.

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