POLAND — The RSU 16 committee Monday agreed to take the proposed $20 million budget for 2014-15 to residents of Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland for comment before taking final action on it.

The budget, committee Chairwoman Mary Martin said, is the product of nearly three months work by the Budget Committee, which attempted to set a spending plan to maintain current programs and address goals established by the district’s strategic plan.

The proposed budget calls for adding the equivalent of about five positions districtwide: a full-time gifted and talented teacher and a behavior mentor to serve all schools; increase the assistant principal position and add a fourth-grade teacher at Poland Community School; a special education teacher at Poland Regional High School; and dean at Whittier Middle School.

The budget also calls for purchasing two new school buses.

While the budget is nearly $750,000 more than this year, the amount local taxpayers would have to come up with is about a third of that amount, thanks to an increase in state aid.

Factors driving the increased expenditures include an estimated $128,000 to cover health insurance premiums, $130,000 to pay tuition to charter schools, $36,000 for new buses, $315,000 to be set aside for salary increases for employees (pending results of ongoing negotiations), and $228,000 for salaries for new hires.

Superintendent Tina Meserve said the figure for tuition for students attending out-of-district charter schools is an estimate based on this year’s experience, but the exact figure won’t be known until August, when the district gets the bill.

Meserve estimated that if voters ultimately approve the budget at the proposed $20 million level, the increase in property taxes will be relatively similar in all three towns.

Taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 in Mechanic Falls would go from $1,077 to $1,102, an increase of $24.73; in Minot taxes would go from $1,017 to $1,041, an increase of $23.32; and in Poland taxes would go from $812 to $835, an increase of $22.83.

The proposed budget will be presented to Mechanic Falls residents at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at Elm Street School; to Poland residents at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, at Poland Community School; and to Minot residents at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at Minot Consolidated School.

School Committee members, who will be at the meetings, will receive comments. They will vote on the budget in April.

Voters will have their say on the budget at a district meeting scheduled for later in May, with a validation referendum in June.


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