JAY — The Regional School Unit 73 board of directors voted 6-4 Tuesday night to approve an $18.73 million budget for 2016-17.

The amount is $89,013.33, or 0.4 percent, more than this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Voting for it were: Cindy Young, Holly Richards and Mark Holt, all of Livermore, Laurie Sanborn of Livermore Falls, and Joel Pike and Doug DiPasquale, both of Jay.

Voting against were Tammy Frost and Chairwoman Denise Rodzen, both of Livermore Falls, Amy McDaniel and Shari Ouellette, both of Jay.

Absent were Jackie Knight of Livermore Falls, and Michael Morrell and Michael Schaedler, both of Jay. 

Superintendent Kenneth Healey said there were three options for the budget: keep it as submitted at $18.84 million, add to it, or cut it.

“Tell me not what to cut, but the amount to cut,” Healey said.

The budget reflects a loss of $138,890.02 in state subsidies and an additional $450,000 for salaries and benefits because of contractual obligations. 

Also included are costs for restructuring the elementary schools in Livermore and Jay. The plan calls for all pre-kindergarten to second-grade students to attend Livermore Elementary School and all third, fourth and fifth grade students at Jay Elementary School, starting in the fall.

Now, both schools have grades kindergarten through five, with Livermore also housing all district pre-kindergarten students.

The estimated costs for the change include $14,650 for the staff’s time, $158 for vehicle expenses and $6,500 for new signs. The new school names would be Spruce Mountain Primary School and Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Livermore and Jay, respectively.

The board will vote on the plan at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at the Spruce Mountain High School cafeteria.

The proposed district budget also includes $798,320 carried over from this fiscal year and up to $424,686 from the undesignated fund balance.

At the end of 2016-17, there will be $1.23 million in undesignated funds and carryover accounts. Undesignated funds must be used within the next three years, and the recommendation was to use a third of them for 2016-17.

Ouellette suggested at least $89,000 be cut from the budget.

Healey said he could cut $8,000 from his educational benefits and $80,000 from a grades seven to 12 teaching position, moving that teacher elsewhere in the district.

A Spruce Mountain High School teacher said 16 positions have been eliminated there since the district was formed in 2011. Once they are cut, they are never put back in, the teacher said. 

“Taxpayers won’t fund a higher budget,” Ouellette said. “I would much rather lose one teacher than five or 10.” 

Richards said she didn’t feel comfortable cutting a person when there is so much money being carried over.

Holt suggested reducing the carryover to retain programs.

“We could make cuts where totals haven’t been spent over the years,” he said.

Business Manager Michele Coates said if the carryover is cut, the towns will have to kick in more next year. 

Rodzen said the carryover is used while the district waits for towns to pay their assessments.

Pike suggested increasing the amount used from undesignated funds.  

Ouellette moved to cut the budget by $89,013.33 and DiPasquale seconded it. The vote was 2-8.

A motion to use up to $100,000 more of the undesignated funds for 2016-17 passed. 

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