STRONG — The Regional School Unit 58 board was told Thursday night that despite a $5.5 million drop in the state’s valuation that should have drawn more state money to the four district towns, that won’t be happening because the local mill rates have increased.

Phillips will be the hardest hit, and Kingfield will have the lowest burden financially, Superintendent Susan Pratt told board members, district staff and selectmen from Strong and Kingfield. The other towns in the district are Strong and Avon.

The Maine Department of Education’s Essential Programs and Services is designed to ensure that all schools have the essential programs and resources that give all students an equitable opportunity to achieve the Maine Learning Results.

If the district exceeds the EPS funding model, district taxpayers will pay the balance.

After reviewing this year’s budget requests, Pratt concluded that the board could anticipate asking taxpayers for $207,000 less than last year. The figure represents a 2 percent drop.

Over 64 percent of the budget pays for employee salaries and benefits, she said, and those costs have to be covered, although state funding remains flat.


“We are seeing flat funding at the state level, even though we have increased our student population and decreased our state valuation,” Pratt said.

She said enrollment in RSU 58 has increased, with 481 students at the three elementary schools and 250 at the high school.

Pratt said she rarely brings politics to the attention of the board and community, but added that the situation has put small towns in a critical financial position.

“I have written to my legislators, and I encourage you to do the same,” she told the board and the audience.

Gov. Paul LePage has kept $70 million in a surplus fund, and that money should help offset costs for education, according to one municipal official.

“I’ll do everything I can as a selectman if you’ll help us get the ball rolling,” Strong Selectman Mike Pond said.


School board Chairwoman Kim Jordan said she hoped to attend a legislative session in Augusta to express her frustration with unfunded mandates forced on local taxpayers.

In other matters, the board presented Strong Elementary School secretary Mary Stinchfield the Employee of the Month award. Pratt listed more than a dozen roles Stinchfield, a 30-year veteran in the school system, handles every day.

“She does it all,” Pratt said. “She’s the go-to person.”

Stinchfield received a standing ovation.

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