WALES — When RSU 4 school directors meet in two weeks to take another crack at the 2013-14 budget, cutting all sports and extracurricular activity may be on the table, according to Superintendent Jim Hodgkin.

“All of them,” Hodgkin said Thursday. “Football, basketball, drama. For the entire district. We know we can’t make any more cuts to the classrooms.”

Residents defeated the proposed $17.69 million budget, a roughly 0.5 percent increase, in a vote Tuesday.

They defeated the first budget in early June. The second effort included $55,000 in savings from salaries and renegotiated contracts and $175,000 in increased state aid. It passed in Litchfield but was turned back in Sabattus and Wales.

At issue is the anticipated property tax increase. Cutting extracurriculars would save an estimated $200,000 to $300,000, Hodgkin said.

Due to new costs passed along from the state and no reserve to tap into, the board would need to cut $700,000 to stave off any tax impact.

“(Directors) have two weeks to get out in their communities to find out what we can do to put together a budget that will pass,” he said. “They’re the representatives of the community so they need to find out what’s going on.”

The board will take up new budget talks and could even adopt a new budget on July 31 at 6:30 p.m. at Oak Hill High School.

Hodgkin said he’s heard two other ideas floated: eliminating iPads for grades kindergarten to three and cutting administration.

He pointed out that any laid-off staff would still receive their next three months of pay and that administrators are working to try to save the district money.

Partially cutting iPads — supplying them to two grades instead of four — would save $43,000 to $45,000 and could potentially be returned to next year’s budget.

Cutting extracurriculars would be harder to restore.

“I think you need to look at things you think you can live without for a period of time, two or three years, maybe forever,” Hodgkin said. “We could probably eliminate all co-curricular activities for a year; we’re going to be in no better shape to pay for it a year from now than we are now.”

A new school budget has to be voted on by Aug. 30.

It’s not the only local district wrestling to pass a budget before the start of the new school year. A second school budget referendum will be held Tuesday in Auburn after voters rejected the first proposal last month. That new budget has dropped from 6.9 percent higher than the year before to 4.9 percent higher.

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Staff writer Bonnie Washuk contributed to this report.


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