With the 2016-2017 budget approved by the RSU 12 Board of Directors in April and a tour of the district’s towns complete, RSU 12 will present its $20.8 million budget to voters at the district budget meeting in Chelsea on Thursday, May 19.
The district budget meeting is a final opportunity for voters to weigh in and potentially amend the budget before it goes to a referendum vote in June.
The 2016-2017 budget is a 2.9 percent, or $604,073, increase from the previous year’s budget of $20,271,921. It is the first budget developed by RSU 12 in which the seven towns in the school district are paying the same total cost per student, which is $12,876.
The new cost-sharing formula was developed and phased in due to disputes in RSU 12 that led to several withdrawal efforts. RSU 12 is currently composed of Whitefield, Alna, Somerville, Westport Island, Windsor, Chelsea, and Palermo.
Due in part to the new cost-sharing formula, some towns will welcome reductions in their local contribution; others will see a significant increase.
In presenting the budget to the boards of selectmen in the RSU 12 district, board members and administrators encouraged voter turnout at the May 19 meeting to prevent a handful of people from attempting to dramatically alter the budget.
The district budget meeting the year before saw several attempts to amend or reduce categories of the budget. With local contributions up as much as 13 percent for some municipalities in the district, administrators foresee similar efforts to reduce the budget at the May 19 meeting.
With more than 43 percent of the budget composed of tuition payments and special-education costs, there is little that can be reduced, Superintendent Howard Tuttle has said.
According to a pie chart breaking down the budget, regular instruction for K-8 accounts for 23 percent of the budget. It is the only cost center where reductions can really be made, RSU 12 board members have said, and a cut to that cost center would translate to a reduction in staff and programming.
Windsor is facing the largest increase to its local contribution, due in part to a new multimillion-dollar substation that increased Windsor’s valuation. Windsor’s local contribution is projected to increase 13.2 percent, from $2,062,353 in 2015-2016 to $2,335,150 in 2016-2017.
Somerville is facing the second-largest increase in its local contribution at 5.9 percent, from $526,690 in 2015-2016 to $557,802 in 2016-2017.
Chelsea is facing the third-largest increase, at 4.4 percent, from $2,008,554 in 2015-2016 to $2,097,225 in 2016-2017.
Palermo is facing a 3.1 percent increase from $1,769,735 in 2015-2016 to $1,825,230 in 2016-2017.
Whitefield is facing a 0.4 percent increase from $2,106,573 in 2015-2016 to $2,116,189 in 2016-2017.
For the second year in a row, Alna will see a decrease in its local contribution to RSU 12. Alna’s local contribution will decrease 2.4 percent from $891,983 in 2015-2016 to $870,192 in 2016-2017.
Westport Island will see a larger decrease in its contribution. Westport Island’s contribution will decrease 17.2 percent from $865,725 in 2015-2016 to $716,515 in 2016-2017.
All local contributions include the additional subsidy RSU 12 received after its budget was approved in 2015-2016, which had been held in escrow to reduce the local contribution in 2016-2017.
The district budget meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chelsea Elementary School.