LIVERMORE — Robert “Bob” Staples, board of director chair of Regional School Unit 73 from Jay, during the Thursday, March 9, meeting said making cuts in the proposed budget at this point would mean cutting positions.

The 2023/24 proposed budget is $23.3 million, up $1.1 million or 4.92% over the the current spending plan of $22.2 million.

Staples was opposed to any cuts, stating, “that would be the worst for our students.”

Earlier in the meeting former director Shari Ouellette of Jay spoke of other districts that had cut their school budgets. “We have lost our mill, I would like to know what your plan is going forward,” she said. “We can’t sustain where we are.”

Ouellette asked if there had been discussions, was anything in the pipeline to help out with the budget.

“The budget is what we have proposed,” RSU 73 Superintendent Scott Albert said. It is the board’s decision to bring it to taxpayers, he noted.


Albert shared how much taxes would increase in each town: Livermore Falls 2.87%, Livermore 5.07% and Jay 5.63%.

Jay’s are going up so much because it was approved for decreases in valuation through Maine Sudden and Severe Disruption of Valuation program, Albert said. While Jay’s taxes are up this year, they are still lower than the year before that and the year before that, he stated.

The state is picking up about 69.3% of the district’s budget to offset changes in valuation, Albert added.

“My degree is in rural economic development,” Robin Beck, board vice chair from Livermore Falls said. “If you want to develop your area, if you want to improve your area, the first place to improve on is your school system. If you want to draw people that have money that will start businesses, that will develop business here you have to have the school system.

“I know this budget is going up. It’s my view that it’s not going up enough. We need to pay our teachers what they are worth. If Jay, Livermore Falls and Livermore want us to increase the worth of these towns they need to vote yes on this budget.”

“We went through [the budget] very thoroughly, want to have a certain standard,” Chantelle Woodcock, a director from Jay, said. “I will say it all day, our teachers do not make enough. I don’t know how you could be able to cut anything and still function where we want to be.” Is it known where cuts are being made in other districts, she asked.


Albert noted many districts are behind RSU 73 in the budget process and taking first looks at their budgets. He wasn’t sure if numbers shared by Ouellette would be the actual cuts, that they were from first budget discussions.

Costs for paper, fuel and insurance have risen, the budget is not filled with frills, Woodcock stated. “I don’t want a rumor mill to start that we are raising our budget and everyone else is cutting.”

“Some districts are hurting,” Albert stressed. “We got a lot more [money] from the state which definitely helped.” Student population in some districts has dropped, has stayed steady in RSU 73 and in Lisbon has increased, which has provided more state money towards their budget, he noted.

It is so easy to say cut the budget, Woodcock said. When looking at every number and position, it is a neighbor,  friend, kid’s teacher being affected, she noted. “When you are talking about $1.3 million in cuts, who else, what is the job to make that happen is where my mind is at,” she noted.

There are three upcoming budget meetings:

• March 16, 6 p.m., Spruce Mountain High School, directors to approve and sign warrants.


• April 6, 6 p.m., Spruce Mountain High School, district budget validation meeting where voters from Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls can ask questions about each article before approving it.

• April 25, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at polling places in the three towns, budget validation vote.

There is only one question to be considered April 25, the overall passage of the budget, Albert said. Using the budget validation/referendum process is voted on every three years, was done last year and nothing separate is being asked for this year, he noted.

April 6 is an important meeting, where questions can be asked and each line in the budget voted on, Albert added.

In other business, updates from Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education were shared by Director Robyn Raymond. The office has been heavily involved with providing education and training, retirement and financial planning, insurance plans, and other resources for those impacted by the mill closure, she said. At the resource fair held three weeks ago at the Cedar Street location in Livermore Falls, 52 Pixelle employees attended, she noted. Because of space limitations and the inability to hold confidential conversations there, the job fair scheduled for Monday, March 13, was moved to Spruce Mountain Middle School gym to alleviate some of the barriers, she added.

Maine Development Foundation, which was the lead organization on the Build Back Better grant applied for last year to fund a CDL [commercial driver’s license] program has applied for another grant for similar funding, Raymond said. The foundation has been working closely with the Town of Jay to ensure the town’s needs are being met and incorporating Jay into the grant application, she noted.

“We’ve been lucky to work with Justin Merrill from Merrill’s Garage [in Jay] and Samanth Byam from Vortex [in Livermore] to best understand how to support our local employers who would benefit from having a CDL course offered locally, and build an appropriate budget to fund this start up,” Raymond stated.

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