WALES — Regional School Unit 4 officials will host an online community forum May 8 to answer parent questions about education in the era of COVID-19 and to discuss the school system’s budget.

“I think it’s time to start doing that, although we have no idea when we’ll actually be able to hold the district budget meeting or referendum,” Superintendent Andrew Carlton said.

The school system, which includes Sabattus, Litchfield and Wales, usually holds a School Committee vote on the budget in April, a district meeting on the budget in May and a referendum on it in June. That timeline has been disrupted by COVID-19 and the state’s order for people to stay home.

Maine school systems that cannot get their 2020-21 budgets passed by July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, have state permission to operate under the current budget, Carlton said. But RSU 4’s current $19 million budget does not include enough money for next year’s contracted raises for employees, cost increases for health insurance or other increased expenses.

“That’ll make it really difficult,” Carolton said. “For everybody that would be difficult. But that’s what we’re planning on for right now because we don’t know when the gathering restrictions will be lifted. Realistically, that will be difficult, but we’re hopeful by mid-summer the restrictions will be lifted and we’ll be able to hold a district budget meeting and a referendum.”

The online community meeting will be held at 9 a.m. through Zoom. A link will be posted on the school system’s website.

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