FARMINGTON — On Tuesday, April 10, residents in Regional School Unit 9 got a look at a proposed budget for 2019-20 that is $190,000 less than a week ago.

School officials held a public forum at which they presented a proposed $37.12 million spending plan, down by about 0.44% from the $37.31 million budget presented April 2.

The latest proposed budget is almost $1.6 million more than current spending.

Superintendent Tina Meserve said the district’s budget committee was able to reduce the proposed budget after learning there would be no increase for the coming year in the district’s health insurance premiums.

Meserve said the budget committee had four goals when developing the spending plan, including looking at what would be needed to maintain current programs and to provide for improved services while being sensitive to how school spending would weigh on taxpayers.

“The committee also wanted to increase transparency,” she said, “so our community feels confident about the numbers put in front of them.”

Meserve said the proposed 0.5% increase is partially attributable to recent gains in enrollment. She said RSU 9 has 118 more students today than it had two years ago.

The proposed budget would provide for teacher pay raises averaging 2.5% and support staff raises averaging 5%.

Meserve said the proposed budget hike also reflects increased costs for books and supplies; a second-grade teacher at Cape Cod Hill School; a W.G. Mallett School teacher who is now paid through a grant; special education support; and a career counselor for Foster Career and Technical Education Center satellite sites.

The spending plan would also provide $45,000 in safety upgrades at schools, including cameras, doors, Americans with Disabilities Act playground equipment and traffic studies.

“Over and over again, we are talking about students,” Meserve said. “It’s really easy for people to get caught up in the numbers, but we are talking about the education of our students.”

Meserve said district officials anticipate receiving almost $22.1 million from the state, which would be $1.1 million more than this year.

Many towns in the district should expect increased assessments because of higher property valuations, she added.

If the proposed budget is approved, RSU 9 communities would face the following tax obligations: Chesterville, $1.06 million, an $8,723 increase; Farmington, $4.81 million, a $50,102 increase; Industry, $932,787, an $8,695 increase; New Sharon, $1.04 million, a $3,201 decrease; New Vineyard, $765,100, a $21,846 increase; Starks, $481,293, a $17,989 increase; Temple, $432,177, a $7,347 increase; Vienna, $730,547, an $8,559 increase; Weld, $496,254, a $27,352 decrease; and Wilton, $2.75 million, a $56,657 decrease.

Tbe RSU 9 board is scheduled to decide on a final budget proposal at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on April 23 at The Forum on the Mt. Blue Campus.

Voters would then review the proposed budget at a districtwide meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 28 at Bjorn Auditorium, also on the Mt. Blue Campus.

The budget referendum is set for June 11 at polling stations in the district towns.

The forum was well attended despite adverse weather. Meserve said it was necessary to hold the forum in order to keep the budget process on track. Another forum would be scheduled if there is enough interest from the community, she added.

“Because of the break next week, another forum would not be able to be scheduled until after the board budget vote on April 23,” she said.

Meserve said budget information, including a PowerPoint presentation and recordings, will be available soon at the district website: www.mtbluersd.org.

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