OXFORD — The SAD 17 Budget Committee has reduced the expected average increase in the local assessment for 2014-15 from 4.5 percent to 3.99 percent.

“We got our final rate increase for health insurance, and it was 7.5 percent,” Business Manager Cathy Fanjoy Coffey said. “We had budgeted 9.5 percent. We used that savings to reduce the local assessments.”

Education officials statewide have been advised by Maine Department of Education Commissioner Jim Rier that there is a good possibility that the final state subsidy and the required minimum mill rate will change, Fanjoy Coffey said. That could change the local assessments, she said.

The assessments currently range from a 3.5 percent increase for Harrison to a 5.97 percent increase for Oxford.

On Monday, SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts unveiled the proposed $37.65 million budget to the board of directors. It is 4.75 percent more than this fiscal year.

The budget will maintain existing programming.

Colpitts told about 30 school officials, employees and others this week that the spending plan includes $225,000 for four more teachers to reduce elementary class sizes; $201,690 for the second-year lease payment of the Oxford Hills Middle School in Oxford; $326,908 for the second-year payment for technology at the middle and high schools and $45,000 for technology integration teachers at both levels.

The budget also includes $25,000 to start a preschool at the Hebron Station School, $450,000 for teacher retirements and $500,000 in health insurance increases, which school districts are now responsible for.

The proposed budget will go to four hearings for the eight district towns:

* April 15 at 7 p.m. at Oxford Elementary School for Oxford and Otisfield residents;

* April 15 at 7 p.m. at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway for Norway and Paris residents.

* April 16 at 7 p.m. at Hebron Station School for Hebron and West Paris residents.

* April 16 at 7 p.m. at Harrison Elementary School for Harrison and Waterford residents.

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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