POLAND — The Regional School Unit 16 committee Monday agreed to take a proposed $20.6 million budget to voters in Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland this month.

Informational meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, at Elm Street School in Mechanic Falls; 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, at Poland Community School; and 6 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at Minot Consolidated School.

The 2015-16 spending plan is almost $700,000 more than this fiscal year and would necessitate the towns coming up with $477,000 more than they did a year ago.

According to estimates from school officials, taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 in Mechanic Falls would go up about $39.42; in Minot, $46.56; and in Poland, $44.33.

RSU 16 Superintendent Tina Meserve said the budget includes items the School Committee and Budget Committee believe the district can’t do without. They include:

* Hiring a district business manager, $85,000;

* Changing the elementary school math curriculum in grades kindergarten through six, $60,000;

* Providing guidance counselor services at two elementary schools, $30,000;

* Upgrading ninth-grade science curriculum, $5,360; and

* Adding a field hockey coach at Whittier Middle School, $1,500.

School Committee Chairman Mary Martin said a study of 11 area districts similar to RSU 16’s size revealed all of them have business managers.

She said Meserve and Assistant Superintendent Kim Brandt have been spending way too much time dealing with issues more appropriately handled by a business manager.

“It’s very difficult to move the district in the direction we want it to go without a business manager,” Martin said.

The plan for guidance counselors at Elm Street and Minot Consolidated schools, which have social workers, would put them on an equal footing with Poland Community School. The social worker positions would be eliminated.

Meserve said the Legislature has not set a final number for the amount of state aid to education. She said the budget is based on a “worst-case scenario” for such aid.

School Committee member Steve Holbrook asked Meserve whether additional state aid would reduce what the towns would have to raise or if other priority items would be added to the budget.

She said the budget will be taken to public hearings in all three towns and if anything more were to be added it might be $90,000 for Spanish classes at Whittier Middle School.


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