The RSU 16 school board met Monday via Zoom for its regular monthly session. Screenshot from video

School officials hope they’ll be able to reduce the property tax burden on residents of Regional School Unit 16 in Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot.

Superintendent Kenneth Healey said Monday that he expects state aid will be more than anticipated when the $24.3 million spending plan, approved 218 to 150 by voters last week, was put together in recent months.

He said he expects that, “in the next week or so” the Legislature will agree to increase state funding to equal 55% of the cost of education in Maine, a target that voters set in 2004 but which has never been met in the years since.

This year, though, Gov. Janet Mills and lawmakers appear poised to provide the money for the first time.

What that means, Healey said, is that the state will pick “greater burden” for the cost and taxpayers in the three towns will pay less.

Stacie Field, the district’s business manager, told the school board Monday that the district is likely to end the year with a surplus. That means there will be, “more money to put to a subsequent budget,” she said.

Healey added the district is trying to make sure there is money available for the following school year’s budget as well since it is seeing a reduction in state aid.

He said that at the end of the school year, the district had 1,628 in-person students and another 115 who attended virtually.

The district had 175 COVID-19 cases during the course of the year, said Assistant Superintendent Amy Hediger. More than half the rising seniors at Poland Regional High School have had at least their first vaccine shot, she said, and 82% of staff have also had at least one.

The session is the last one scheduled for four of the board’s members, including Norm Davis of Poland, who served for 19 years on the panel. Also leaving are Norm Beauparlant of Poland and two Mechanic Falls men, Travis Ritchie and Kelsey Earle.

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