Lincoln Academy’s $800,000-plus in budget cuts for the 2018-2019 school year were the result of staff reductions and debt consolidation, among other factors, according to the school.
The Lincoln County News reported the budget cuts at the independent Newcastle high school last week, based on documents LA provided to AOS 93. The LCN requested more information from the school, but did not receive a response until after the article’s publication.
Lincoln Academy Chief Financial Officer Wendy Corlett explained the budget cuts in an email response to questions from the LCN.
Lincoln Academy’s budget for the 2018-2019 school year is $843,353 less than the budget for the 2017-2018 school year, according to the school documents.
“Understanding the need to reduce expenses, we eliminated some staffing in administration, admissions, and development as well as the associated employer taxes and benefits,” Corlett said in her email. “In addition we were able to replace retiring teachers with teachers who were on the lower end of the salary scale. We refinanced and consolidated our debt at a much more favorable interest rate.”
An unexpected spike in health insurance costs offset some of the cuts. Corlett pointed to a gap between how much LA’s health insurance costs rose and how much the state raised the maximum allowable tuition.
“With health insurance costs increasing in excess of 20%, there seems to be a disparity between the increase in these costs compared to only a 2% increase” in the maximum allowable tuition, Corlett said.
The maximum allowable tuition dictates how much a private secondary school can charge a public school district for tuition.
Corlett also expanded on the school’s reasoning for the elimination of Eagle Term, a three-week term at the end of the school year.
The program allowed students to “explore areas of interest for which they might not normally have the time in their schedule. It also allowed teachers to pilot new courses and teach short courses in an area of expertise or interest that they don’t usually get to pursue,” Corlett said in the email.
“Like many new programs there were unexpected challenges for both our faculty and our parents. The scheduling and coordination took much more time and effort (than) was originally thought,” Corlett said.
Corlett added that the need to make up snow days at the end of the year reduced the number of days available for Eagle Term.
As in its report to AOS 93, the school did not rule out a return of Eagle Term.
“We are currently in process of completing our periodic review of all curriculum and Eagle Term will be part of that review process,” Corlett said.
Corlett also said the new position of director of curriculum and instruction will replace the position of assistant to the head for special projects.
The school’s report to AOS 93 announced the creation of the position and said it would replace an existing administrative position, but did not say which position it would replace.
AOS 93, a Damariscotta-based public school district for seven towns in Lincoln County, sends most of its high school students to Lincoln Academy. The district does not have a public high school.