AUGUSTA — Out of a long wish list of items school board members wanted to fund in the 2014-15 budget, the only ones to make the cut are elementary school band and high school Latin.
Following an outpouring of public support for those two programs, school board members decided not to eliminate them, rejecting a proposal by Superintendent James Anastasio. The school board is scheduled to vote on its budget at a meeting set for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council chambers.
Two weeks ago, the board voted in a series of straw polls for programs and personnel they wanted to fund that Anastasio had left out of his budget, including Latin, elementary school band, the drafting program at Capital Area Technical Center and laptop purchases.
After further discussion, however, they included only band, Latin and a new $126,000 request for an elementary mathematics curriculum in the budget on Wednesday’s agenda.
A school board committee has approved the mathematics curriculum, which will receive a vote from the full board on Wednesday.
“They put back what they felt is the most necessary,” Augusta Public Schools business manager Kathy Casparius said. “It’s a pretty meager budget. It’s not much different from last year.”
The board’s proposed budget for kindergarten through grade 12 and adult education is $27.9 million. That’s $443,080, or 1.6 percent, more than the school district is spending this year.
At-large board member Larry Ringrose said there were other things he and other board members wanted to fund — such as more time for a nurse and a guidance counselor for Hussey Elementary School, which would have more students next year if the school board approves redistricting — but they decided the city couldn’t afford them.
The board decided to keep Latin and band for fifth- and sixth-graders because students, parents and other residents advocated for them forcefully at a public input session and in emails to board members. And the mathematics curriculum is necessary, Ringrose said, because the one the district bought several years ago is outdated and not working for the district.
“It’s normal maintenance-type money,” he said. “Occasionally you have to shingle your house, and that’s what that is.”