Maine School Administrative District 58 Superintendent Laura Columbia gives a presentation on Monday evening, May 6, to the Kingfield Select Board about the district’s budget. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

KINGFIELD — The Kingfield Selectmen meeting on Monday, May 6, was packed as Superintendent Laura Columbia presented the proposed 2024-25 budget for Maine School Administrative District [MSAD] #58. Columbia set the tone, outlining the district’s objectives and financial considerations.

“I am lucky to call myself the superintendent of MSAD 58,” Columbia said. “When I first started in July, we didn’t really have district goals. So we did a quick survey of our community, our staff and our kids, and then Maine School Administrative District 58 we took all that feedback and looked at what are the trends we are seeing.”

Columbia began the presentation by laying out three district goals. She said the first goal is to have 95% or more students graduate with an eighth-grade reading level or higher. She said an eighth-grade reading level will enable the students to navigate medical records, etc. The second goal listed is 90% of staff and students will have someone at school to discuss difficulties with. Finally, the third goal is to have all facilities with a score of 90% or higher on the facilities assessment rubric.

Columbia said some ask why eighth-grade reading level is the goal. “If we can get them an eighth-grade reading level, they can access almost all medical documents and cash documents,” she said. “So that would be a great improvement for our community.”

“This year’s budget, we are looking at an overall increase of 3.06%,” Columbia said, which also includes adult education. “3.06% is fairly good in this economy. The total including the adult education cost of $22,439 is $11,907,914. As state funding declines, local budgets are seeing an increase. Avon’s budget is up by 9.30%, while Kingfield’s has risen by 12.19%, an increase of $224,048.

“We want to be as transparent as possible,” Columbia emphasized, stressing the importance of community involvement in the budgetary process.


Columbia said, “The state contributes 64.57% to MSAD 58, and the communities must raise 35.43% to receive the full state contribution.”

There is a balance forward which is unexpended funds from the previous year’s budget, and income from sales of unused equipment and other items. Columbia said the balance forward consists mainly of unexpended funds from unfilled positions within the district. Columbia emphasized that this practice isn’t a long-term solution, advocating for gradually reducing its use to support students and staff better.

“If I am understanding correctly, the school district can’t use undesignated funds without approving it through the taxpayers,” said Annie Twitchell, from the Kingfield POPS board of directors. “So, we are looking at approving $685,000 from the undesignated towards reducing the tax burden this year. We are also looking at approving $616,000 towards the capital reserve which would then make it so that school board has access to use those funds. The undesignated accounts are kind of locked up.”

“The board approved us adding a warrant to put $616,000 to a capital reserve account,” Columbia said. “That is some of our undesignated funds. If we start building up our reserve accounts, we can pull from that for emergencies or projects.”

During the meeting, audience members expressed concerns about Kingfield’s contribution to the district budget. Columbia acknowledged these concerns saying, “There are all these formulas that go into the number of kids we have.” She highlighted the complexities inherent in funding allocation.

The state funding formula takes into consideration the number of students and staff within the district, Columbia said. Tuition students, such as students from Carrabassett Valley, the unorganized territories, and high school students from the Eustis School District, are not counted towards the state funding formula, although the district receives compensation for those students in other revenue, she said.


Columbia explained this financial framework dictates the proportions of state and local funding required for each district.

She said the Essential Programs and Services [EPS] are the programs and resources that are essential for students to have an equitable opportunity to achieve the Maine Learning Results.

According to, since 1997 Maine has had the Maine Learning Results as its state standards for eight content areas and periodically updates them.

“I am a big fan of planning, so I really think we need to be strategic how we move forward,” Columbia said. “The board approved us adding a warrant to put $616,000 into a capital reserve account. That is some of our undesignated funds. If we start building up our reserve accounts, we can pull from that for emergencies or projects.”

“I am stressing the importance of allowing that money to go into the reserve account,” Colombia said.

The MSAD 58 annual budget hearing is scheduled for May 23 at 7 p.m. at Mt. Abram High School cafeteria, followed by referendum voting on June 11 across various municipalities.


Upcoming meetings and voting sessions:
• MSAD 58 Annual Budget Hearing: May 23, 7 p.m., Mt. Abram High School cafeteria.
• General elections will be held May 31 at Webster Hall 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Vote on the budget and other town business will be held on June 1 at 9 a.m. at the Kingfield Elementary School.

Referendum voting: June 11, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., various locations:
• Avon: 1115 Rangeley Road, Avon Town Hall.
• Kingfield: 38 School St., Webster Hall.
• Phillips: 124 Main St., Phillips Town Office.
• Strong: 14 S. Main St., Forster Memorial Building.

Absentee ballots are available through May 28. Simply reach out to the Town Office to request one. In exceptional cases, one may be requested on May 29 and 30.

Additionally, before the annual town meeting in June, voters will cast their decisions on two Board of Selectmen seats and two MSAD #58 board of directors seats.

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