OXFORD – The SAD 17 Budget Committee on Wednesday approved a preliminary $37.65 million budget for the Oxford Hills School District for 2014-15.

It will go to public hearings in the eight district towns beginning April 15.

The budget is 4.75 percent more than this fiscal year and calls for an average 4.5 percent increase in the local share. Those increases will range from 3.53 percent in Harrison to 6.62 percent in Oxford.

“The local share is 4.5 percent. It does not get us to 100 percent of the (Essential Programs and Services) but we’re a little more than halfway there,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts said.

SAD 17 is in the first year of a three-year ramp-up to meet the 100 percent local share EPS mandate by the state. The district and a few others were under a waiver from the 100 percent compliance until June 2013.

The EPS model has been used by the state since 2004 to calculate how much money each school district needs to spend to provide an adequate education. The state uses property values and other factors to determine how much each community should contribute to the EPS amount, and a state subsidy covers the rest.

The approved preliminary budget plan was one of two reviewed by the Budget Committee at its meeting Wednesday night. The second plan called for a 5.56 percent increase over this fiscal year and local share increases of from 3.53 percent to 8.68 percent.

At this time, the preliminary budget does not have additional cuts in staff or  programs, beyond what has been cut in the past several years, Business Manager Cathy Fanjoy Coffey said.

The first public hearings on the spending proposal will be April 15, one at the Oxford Elementary School for Oxford and Otisfield residents and the other at the Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway for Norway and Paris residents. Both begin at 7 p.m.

Two more are set for April 16, one at the Hebron Station School for Hebron and West Paris and the other at the Harrison Elementary School for Harrison and Waterford residents. Both are at 7 p.m.

The Budget Committee will meet April 30 to finalize the spending plan. It will the be presented to the school board May 5 for adoption.

District voters will act on it at 7 p.m. June 5 in the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Forum in Paris. The budget validation referendum in all eight towns is set for June 10.

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