In January, Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12 directors will present voters a 2010 budget that is slightly higher than the 2009 amount for all eight schools before they operated as a single unit.
On Dec. 10, the finance committee chair emphasized the revised figure $26,110,447 is less than one percent higher than the $25,927,116 in 2009 for Wiscasset, Westport Island, Alna, Whitefield, Windsor, Palermo, Somerville and Chelsea.
In addition, said Jerry Nault, the new budget “is significantly reduced from the prior amount (rejected by voters in September) because the state has significantly reduced the amount coming to the RSU by $395,550,” a reduction of 3.4 percent. However, federal stimulus money has been applied to various so-called “cost centers” in the budget in order to save programs and staff.
The new budget will be the fourth attempt since June to get a spending plan approved. It reflects a $1.3 million decrease since that original budget failed to pass.
Nault said stimulus funds will be used to help pay for positions (regular instruction). That line is only $18,138 higher than it was in 2009. He said the committee was “prudent” as it “bent the rule” that federal recovery act money was intended for one-time uses, such as repairs. Nault said that Whitefield’s roof repair project and new bleachers for Wiscasset were nixed, but Palermo’s air exchange system upgrade will go forward “because it’s a health issue.”
Nault also clarified that carryover money from school budgets of earlier years “isn’t ours, it’s not of concern to the RSU but to each town. It has nothing to do with this budget.” He also said that because each town’s taxes have already been committed, the new budget will have “no impact on the tax rate.”
Chelsea’s Betty Larrabee asked what would happen if the RSU doesn’t receive federal recovery act money next year. Nault said the unit would have to develop a plan for funding the schools. “The 2011 budget will be different,” with reductions in the $500,000 or $600,000 range, he predicted.
“The finance committee has been preaching consistently that the situation isn’t going to get better for the next two or three years,” because of further state level curtailments, Nault said.
Public communications committee chair Hilary Holm said a newsletter would be sent to district households before Christmas “and it may include budget information.”
The regional budget adoption meeting will be held at Windsor School on Sat., Jan. 16.
Potter also reported vandalism amounting to $2000 worth of damage to Chelsea School ball fields. The fields were gouged by all-terrain or other vehicular tires.
Meetings with the Dept. of Environmental Protection turned up no concerns about stormwater permits as construction of Chelsea’s new school moves forward. Allen Hallett, of the Chelsea building committee, said he has been trying to publicize the project locally. The RSU 12 newsletter will also contain information.
The replacements would be three Bluebird buses at a state/local share cost of $73,350 for one and $72,350 for two. The RSU will take out a five-year repayment plan loan and the state will give the RSU credit through the debt service provision in the Essential Programs and Services formula.
There was extended discussion of five-gallon buckets, containing bottles of water, candy bars, decks of cards, with the potential to be used as a toilet if a classroom is locked for an extended period of time. The buckets, while not required, are “a good idea,” said McNaughton.
McNaughton said all schools currently have an active “incident command system” and they are conducting staff trainings and emergency response drills, such as lockdowns and evacuations. He also said evaluating the plans is “an ongoing process. Each school has to complete hazard assessments at the start of each school year.”
No state funds contribute to the cost of implementing the emergency system, he said.
The board approved the plan in its present form, understanding that there will be modifications as time goes on.
RSU 12’s plan calls for “managing resources wisely, creatively, equitably and cost effectively” while improving educational programs. When the board approved buying three new buses, Lester Sheaffer said, “This is one thing we need on the long range plan, systematic bus replacement.”
Chris Johnson was elected to fill in as the board’s vice chair until Albert Lawrence, of Alna, recovers from an accident.
The board meets the second Thursday of the month.