To the Editor,

On April 22, the MSAD 44 Board of Directors unanimously approved the 2019-2020 budget. This was the outcome of very careful scrutiny of each cost center by the Finance Committee to minimize costs, while still ensuring that our students were well served.

The Education Committee carefully considered potentially important new programs. Both committees came together to reconcile student needs, while keeping costs as low as possible.

The proposed FY 20 budget has increased by approximately 3.9% this year. That increase is due mostly to costs MSAD 44 has very little control over, including health benefit increases, negotiated salary increases and special education transportation costs. Less than 1% of this increase is due to new programming.

The new programming includes:

• Addition of a Grade 5 teacher at Crescent Park School (CPS) to maintain lower classroom sizes.
• Expansion of the elementary art program from .8 to 1.0 (full-time).
• Addition of a .4 Educational Technician 1 at Woodstock Elementary School (WES) to cover the library.
• Addition of a .4 social worker to provide a full-time social worker at CPS and a new part-time social worker at WES.
• Increase in the hot lunch program to provide increased program oversight and new menu options.

The proposed budget reflects increases of 5.18% to Greenwood, 7.55% to Bethel, 0.8% to Newry, and 7.99% to Woodstock. It is important to recognize, however, that these percentage increases are due largely to the revised cost sharing formula, which was approved by district voters last year.

The impact of this shift was clearly explained during the lead-up to the district referendum vote on changing the cost sharing formula from 100% valuation incrementally over 9 years to 85% valuation and 15% student count. The impact felt this year is the result of the first phase of that change, which saw an initial shift to a formula based on 95% valuation and 5% student count by town.

It is important to highlight this funding formula change, since some taxpayers may have forgotten about the implications of that vote.

One of the School Board’s most important responsibilities is to develop a budget that supports education for all of our students. They increase the budget only after careful examination and they recognize that these taxpayer funds are an investment in our students and the future of this community.

As stated earlier, it is important to note that this budget did receive unanimous support from the Board, comprised of citizens with diverse backgrounds.

Budget details can be found in the mailer MSAD 44 Budget Review that was recently sent to all  district residents. If you didn’t receive a copy, please contact the district office at 824-2185.

Marcel Polak
Chairman
MSAD 44 Board of Directors
Woodstock

 

 

 


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