POLAND — The Regional School Unit 16 board of directors is eyeing a proposed $24.2 million budget that aims to hold the line against any cuts.

Given the times, it is “tough enough” merely to sustain what’s already funded, Superintendent Kenneth Healey said.

The three-town school board’s Budget Committee plans to discuss the draft spending plan during an online meeting Tuesday that will include an opportunity for public input.

The board has scheduled an April 15 meeting, also on Zoom, to adopt a budget that would ultimately be subject to a referendum June 8.

A screenshot from Regional School Unit 16’s recent budget meeting held on Zoom.

The proposed budget adds about $60,000 to last year’s bottom line, but given reductions in state aid and changes in local assessments, its property tax impact may push some tax bills a bit higher.

One of the issues confronting administrators is that the district has 74 fewer students this year than it did the previous one. Healey said they shifted to home-schooling after COVID-19 upended the country last spring.


Fewer students equates to less state aid, officials said, one big reason that the draft budget anticipates nearly $500,000 less from Augusta in the coming year.

Healey said, though, that the district anticipates that nearly all of the students who left the system will return “as we get more vaccinations” and the risk posed by the disease decreases.

In practical terms, that means the district wants to maintain the same number of educators since it will need teachers for everyone.’

Mary Martin, chairwoman of the school board, said the meeting Tuesday will “review, revise and finalize” the spending plan for presentation to the full board a couple of weeks later.

She said every year has its challenge and opportunities, but the pandemic created some new ones. Student needs, she said, “are more varied and deeper than ever” in the wake of so many pandemic-related issues.

The only position targeted for elimination is a French teacher, a position that wasn’t actually filled during this academic year. Officials said it is still needed, but will have to wait for better times.


One bright spot for taxpayers comes in the transportation area.

The district bought three new school buses with federal pandemic relief money and anticipates receiving another one before the next academic year. With the new buses, officials figure they can save $65,000 next year compared to their operating costs in the current budget.

RSU 16 encompasses the towns of Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot.

For more budget information or to obtain links for the online meetings, go to the RSU 16 website at rsu16.org. Tuesday’s budget panel session begins at 6 p.m.

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