POLAND — Regional School Unit 16 directors were informed Monday that the proposed budget for 2024-25 fiscal year is $29.3 million,  a 7.05% increase this year’s $27.4 million.

Contractual salaries and benefits account for $1.18 million of the increase, and $300,000 was added to the capital improvements line for the district, which represents Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland.

Superintendent Todd Sanders explained that adjustments were made to help offset further increases, including eliminating unfilled positions, reducing special education tuition, and trimming costs in technology and instruction.

The increase in the capital improvements line is meant to catch up on long-neglected maintenance issues involving all school facilities.

It was stated in an earlier report that though $10 million had been requested for capital improvements, only $3.2 million was budgeted and $1.7 million had been spent in an eight-year period.

The maintenance issues came to light during the past year involving the dire state of the heating and ventilation systems in the district’s three elementary schools.

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School directors recently approved a master lease purchase agreement, not to exceed $10.2 million, that will address the heating and ventilation needs of the elementary schools.

That work will be initiated in 2026 and those costs are not included in this budget.

Separate from the budget is the referendum warrant required for $110,000 through the School Revolving Renovation Fund from the Maine Department of Education. These funds will be used for identified compliance issues with the Americans With Disabilities Act at Minot Consolidated School and involve new accessibility ramps and bathroom modifications.

The 0% interest bond is $110,180. The state will pay $68,290, or 61.98%, and RSU 16 $41,890, or 38.02%. The repayment is $8,375 a year, for five years.

The proposed budget was developed by the RSU 16 Administrative Team, comprised of principals and directors.

It will be reviewed by the Budget Committee, which is made up of administrators, district directors and officials from the three towns.

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