BETHEL — Directors of Maine School Administrative District 44 will vote Monday evening on a proposed $15.5 million budget for the coming fiscal year.

“We have an increase of just about $1.4 million over the last year,” Superintendent Mark Kenney said during the MSAD 44 board of directors meeting on April 8. It’s an increase of 13.9%.

“A big piece of that is the loss of $400,000 of our state funding,” he said.

Furthermore, the state miscalculated last year and the district was given more money than it should have, so it looks even worse, he said.

Kenney said 53% of the budget is payroll, 19% is benefits and 20% are fixed costs, for a total of 92%.

Costs for utilities, insurance, supplies, fuel and contracts are all up, he said. “Everything that comes with operations to the school district is more expensive.”


The district cut positions for a technology director and a grant writer, and made several cuts in the transportation department, Kenney said. “Those were hard decisions.”

Monday’s board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Telstar High School library.

A districtwide public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 29, followed by voting in the district towns of Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock on June 11.

Kenney also said administrators are look at a two-year partnership with Oxford’s RideShare to pick up three bus runs.

“If you have kids in the district you have seen the struggles with busing,” Kenney said. “We have three buses that have not been filled for three-plus years.”

RideShare has a dispatcher and a full-time mechanic. Kenney said RideShare drivers have background checks.


“This allows us to put a driver on every single route, and allows Transportation Director Jim Whitman not to be in a bus daily”, Kenney said. Whitman, who has been working double shifts, will be a backup and train new drivers.

In a separate matter, Telstar PTA is accepting nominations for vice president and treasurer. Tonya Lewis has been nominated for vice president, Telstar Principal John Eliot said.

Eliot also said the school had 88% attendance at a Telstar eclipse event and “feedback from the kids was awesome. Any time you get kids to come on an early release day, says a lot. The staff was all in, the kids bought in, that’s not easy to do …”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the accurate SAD 44 total budget amount. We regret the error.

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