Residents of Friendship, Waldoboro, Warren, Washington, and Union will see a $37.2 million budget for RSU 40 at the polls this June. Voters approved all items recommended by the school’s board of directors at the district’s regional budget validation meeting on Tuesday, May 16.
All 22 warrant article were approved as recommended by the district’s board of directors without complaint in under an hour. The budget total is an increase of $3,338,564, or 9.84%.
The state requires regional school units to hold a regional budget validation meeting where residents vote on expense articles, resulting in a final budget adoption. That budget will be voted on at the polls on Tuesday, June 13 in each town.
This year’s proposal was narrowly recommended by the board in April, trimming $480,455 in additional funding requests from the originally proposed figure.
Karen Pike, the district’s business manager, said almost 80% of the increase is in staffing, wages, health insurance, and benefits the district is contractually obligated to provide. Inflation costs for buses, heat, and electricity also drove numbers up, according to Pike.
In a letter to residents, Superintendent Steve Nolan said the district is seeing new challenges in inflation, staffing, and infrastructure needs.
Reductions in state funding, tuition, and reimbursement revenue from formula changes create an additional amount to be covered through taxes, according to Nolan.
“We prioritized the impact on property taxes for 2020-21 and 2021-22 due to the pandemic,” he said. “Budget proposals for 2022-23 and 2023-24 prioritize our schools.”
The proposed wages portion of the budget is up $818,414 or 2.4%. Benefits increase $270,886 or 0.8%.
Support staff contracts are up $455,875 or 1.3%.
An additional line for new teachers at Medomak Middle School totals $200,000 to meet a need administrators have said is at a tipping point. This year’s proposal also adds one new teacher to staff a state grant providing prekindergarten five days a week for the first time.
Other budget lines, including facilities, transportation, property insurance, and legal fees, increase by under $100,000 or less than 1%.
The 2023-24 budget increases Waldoboro’s contribution to $7,110,182, up $709,245 or 11.1%. This contribution is 35.26% of the total funding among the five towns. Waldoboro students make up 36.95% of the district’s pupils.
Additional budget materials are available at rsu40.org under the “Resources” tab.