JAY — The proposed 2021-22 budget for Regional School Unit 73 includes another special education teacher at the elementary school and one for a vacancy at the primary school, Superintendent Scott Albert told directors Thursday night.

The $20.75 million spending plan is almost $600,000 more than this fiscal year, which ends June 30. It is a 2.93% increase from the $20.2 million received last year.

Albert said salaries and benefits make up 76.5% of the proposed budget and those lines increased 3.2%.

An increase of $177,886 for debt service is from the second phase of the Siemens energy project. Three payments of $44,468 will be made, with the first in November, Albert said. There will be four payments annually after that, he said.

Director Doug DiPasquale said he would like to see a budget with no increase.

“The tax base is going down in Jay,” he said.

That would require big slashes in programs and people, Albert said.

The district also includes Livermore and Livermore Falls.

More information will be shared in future meetings, once the town valuations and other numbers are available, the superintendent said.

The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay.

“Just because the budget is going up doesn’t mean that’s what the taxpayers are going to be paying,” Albert said. The district will receive a little over $300,000 more from the state this fiscal than last and there will be some carryover, he noted.

The special education budget is up $255,224.

This year 22 students came into the district, Special Services Director Tammy Verreault said. On average, there are 15 to 20 from Child Development Services each year she added.

A resource teacher was added to adhere to state guidelines.

Each special education case manager can have up to 35 students, Verreault said. One in the district has 32, another 28, she noted.

Contracted social services also increased, she said.

“The needs of the kids are higher,” Verreault said. “There’s been an increase overall in the mental health needs across the district.”

“Hiring additional ed techs is good,” Director Phoebe Pike said but she expressed concerns. Throughout the year the feedback has been that there aren’t enough bodies, she said.

“Is this going to be enough?” she asked. “This year was unprecedented. I don’t want to shortchange teachers next year.”


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