NORTH ANSON — Residents in the five towns belonging to the local school district will be asked to approve a $9.23 million budget on Tuesday, an increase of about 1.74 percent from the current budget.
The budget includes eliminating two teaching positions at Carrabec High School and reducing the high school principal’s hours.
“It really is a bare-bones budget that covers our existing programing with no new programs or positions being added,” said Ken Coville, superintendent of School Administrative District 74, which comprises Anson, Embden, New Portland, North Anson and Solon. “We’ve had to reduce two teaching positions, due to declining enrollment, and had to restructure the administration for additional savings.”
At the district-wide referendum vote on Tuesday, residents will also be asked to authorize the district to take out a $2 million bond that will be used for renovations at Carrabec High School. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Anson and Solon; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Embden and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in New Portland.
The increase in the budget is largely because of changes on the state level, including increased costs for charter schools, a projected decrease in the amount of state funding the district will receive and the continued effects of a cost shift in paying teacher retirement, said Coville. The proposed $9,238,374 budget is up about 1.74 percent from the current budget of $9,080,713.
It was approved in April by the school board and by residents in a May 1 preliminary vote.
Coville said the district expects a decrease in state funding by $80,790 while at the same time facing increased costs for charter schools and teacher retirement.
The proposed 2014-2015 budget includes $72,000 for charter school costs, an increase of about $6,000 from the current budget. Charter schools, which were new to Maine in 2012, are funded by the state but the money is alloted based on where students live. The money that would normally go to the district the student lives in instead funds their education at the charter school.
In 2013 Gov. Paul LePage proposed changes in the state budget that shifted teacher retirement costs from being 100 percent funded by the state to a 50-50 split between the state and local school districts. The 2014-2015 budget year will be the second year that districts have faced the cost, which this year is $105,000 in the North Anson-based district.
The recent rise in costs means the district has had to make some budget reductions to keep the total budget increase to a minimum. In the proposed 2014-2015 budget special education contract services have been reduced by $20,000; two high school teaching positions were eliminated for $100,000; and administrative offices were restructured to save $70,000. The Jobs for Maine Graduates program was also eliminated at the Carrabec Community School.
Because of the administrative restructuring, the principal position at Carrabec High School has been changed from a full-time position to part-time, working three-fifths of a full-time shift. The assistant high school principal position will also combine with the athletic director and alternative ed director titles. At Carrabec Community School, the assistant principal and athletic director positions will combine.
There will be no layoffs because the two teaching positions that were eliminated belong to retiring teachers, said Coville.
Residents will also be asked Tuesday to approve a $2,065,263 bond that would be used for repairs to Carrabec High School.
The high school, which was completed in 1980, has had no significant repairs since then. The proposed upgrades would include replacing the roof of the gymnasium, repaving all parking areas, replacing windows and doors with more energy efficient and durable models, installing air ventilation technology to reduce heat and electrical costs, and replacing demountable temporary walls on the inside of the school with new wall, ceiling and lighting systems.
Other upgrades would also be made to the gymnasium along with the new roof, including new bleachers and a new acoustic system. All bathrooms in the school would be remodeled and new lockers would be installed and the cafeteria and school kitchen would be remodeled.
“These repairs definitely need to be done. All of the renovations are really upgrades in terms of the energy efficiency and functionality of the building,” said Coville. “They will improve the air quality and safety of our school.”
If the repairs are approved, the bond would be issued in November and work would start in January, with an estimated completion date of fall 2015. The first payment on the bond would be included in the 2015-2016 school budget. The cost would be about $170,000 per year over 12 years, said Coville.
In March the state Department of Education approved the district for the bond that would save about $500,000 in interest by providing a federal subsidy.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368 | firstname.lastname@example.org