FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors had their first glimpse Tuesday of a preliminary $33.56 million budget for 2017-18.

Superintendent Tom Ward told the board that the administrative team started at a 5.4 percent increase over the current budget and got it down to 2.65 percent, or an $818,519 increase.

The first full board budget meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the Forum at Mt. Blue Campus. All budget and board meetings are open to the public.

The budget process is different this year with the administrative team developing a budget to present to the board. The board also wanted to see what the needs were in the district that didn’t make it to the preliminary budget proposal.

The first budget offered last year failed in June. A second one for $32.74 million passed by 37 votes in July. It represented a $705,202 increase, or 2.2 percent, over the previous year’s $32 million budget.

This year, the board will hold the two-step voting process on the budget in May. The proposed budget first goes to a districtwide vote, then the number set there goes to a yes or no validation vote in each of the 10 towns in the district.

In the 2016-17 budget, $350,000 was factored in for MaineCare reimbursement for services provided in the district’s day treatment centers. The money will be used to offset special education costs.

Ward said they will probably surpass the reimbursement number. They are also looking at billing for students in the district’s three life skills programs. 

“We feel more comfortable billing for life skills because you need the kids to be in school,” he said.

Students in the day treatment programs sometimes do not come to school for different reasons.

Administrators reviewed $592,484 in needs that didn’t make the preliminary budget.

Among those is increasing the sign language teacher position to full-time at the Mt. Blue Campus to serve more students. There has been an increase in requests for these classes, according to Bruce Mochamer, principal of Mt. Blue High School in Farmington.

Other needs are a half-time science teacher at the campus and making a composite teaching position full time and adding a half-time, pre-engineering teacher, both programs at Foster Career and Technical Education Center at the campus.  

More needs are three special education technicians, the addition of four school social workers for regular students, additional technology infrastructure, a bookkeeper and restoration of $85,000 to contingency accounts.

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