Voters approved a $692,825.87 budget for the AOS 93 central office budget during the annual budget meeting at Great Salt Bay Community School Dec. 15.
The budget, for the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year, is 5.89 percent, a $38,535.87 increase from the current budget.
The budget was composed of three articles encompassing expenditures for special education ($142,252, up 1.9 percent, or $2,628), student and staff support ($41,449, up 23.5 percent, $7,897) and system administration ($509,125, up 5.8 percent $28,011).
Before voting commenced on the budget’s individual articles, AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey explained a large portion of the increase seen in the 2016 to 2017 budget warrant articles was due to the increase in the office’s accounts payable clerk to full time.
“One of the things I do reference in here and we (board members) were in Augusta today to talk about the number of additional reports the state is requesting of our office to make sure we comply with state and federal regulations,” Bailey said. “They are just eating our office up in terms of the amount of time needed to prepare those reports as well as to get all the information in.”
Before the system administration article was voted on, Jenny Mayher, of Newcastle, a parent of a GSB student, said there seemed to be a substantial increase in this area over the past few years.
“It does seem like this line item is up a lot over the course of about four or five years and I’d appreciate some comment on that,” Mayher said.
Bailey said the addition of the accounts payable position to the central office staff was a factor in the increase.
“The last two years the increase was due to the increase in the accounts payable position. That would be one thing to be noted in terms of the fiscal services line. Really, that is the major driver of that,” Bailey said.
Bailey said the central office was aware the increase impacted all the schools and towns in AOS 93. “We are cognizant any increase we have in the central office budget impacts the schools and towns in terms of your individual budgets,” Bailey said.
During the discussion on the three articles authorizing expenditures for the AOS 93 Central Office, members of the public voiced their concerns over portions of the budgetary process and increases in the central office’s budget.
Doug Straus, of Newcastle, suggested more information could be provided to the public prior to budgetary meetings to give them time to process the financial figures.
“It seems that finding out that there is even a meeting tonight and a vote, it could be publicized a little better. It was hard on the website to find out some of this information and such. I might encourage you to do that to try and get the word out about the budget in general,” Straus said.