FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9, like other school systems in the state, is facing a loss of funding for system administration. If they join a regional service center by next July they will get additional funding.

School systems already face less funding per student in future budgets for system administration, Superintendent Tom Ward told school directors Thursday.

“If we don’t have a service center established by July 1, 2018, we lose money under the system administration,” he said.

The governor proposed to eliminate system administration in the current budget but legislators put some back. At one point in past years, system administration was funded 100 percent under the Essential Programs and Services. Then it was reduced to 50 percent and now it is less than that.

System administration includes the superintendent, central office, technology administration and the school board. 

RSU 9 belongs to the Western Maine Education Collaborative along with 13 other school systems. It is a nonprofit organization formed in 2006 where school districts share a number of services, including teacher training to save money. 

Members of the collaborative and community partners “strive to improve student performance through effective and efficient use of human, fiscal and technological resources,” according to its website, westernmaineec.org.

“We share services to save costs,” Ward said. He is hoping that the collaborative will count as being a member of regional service center, he said.

“If we need to tweak it, we can tweak it,” he said.

The initial intent of the proposal to join a regional service center was to get districts to volunteer to join, Ward said.

This school year the district is receiving $135 per pupil for allocation for system administration as are other systems. In 2018-19, it will receive a $92 per pupil allocation for system administration. If a school system is a member of a regional service center, they will also receive an additional $46 per pupil allocation for the regional service center, according to the Maine Department of Education website.

“As with the current system administration per pupil allocation, districts will be able to use those funds at their own discretion. In 2019-20, all school administrative units will receive a $47 per pupil allocation for system administration. If a unit is a member of a regional service center, they will also receive an additional $94 per pupil allocation for the regional service center,” according to Department of Education website maine.gov/doe/embrace.

For RSU 9, receiving $47 per pupil allocation would mean the loss of about $300,000, Ward said. “It is a huge hit,” he said.

In 2020-21, the per pupil allocation for eligible administrative units is to be determined by the Department of Education commissioner based on a statewide review of system administration costs of high-performing, efficient school administrative units, according to the Department of Education.

School administrators are being told it is not a penalty, it is an incentive, Ward said.

The board will receive a presentation on the proposed regional service centers at a future meeting.

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