NORTH ANSON — Parents and community members in School Administrative District 74 gave preliminary approval to a $9.23 million school budget for the 2014-2015 school year Thursday night, the second time this year that they have been asked to do so.
About 30 people turned out to a town meeting style hearing at Carrabec High School to vote on the 16 line items in the proposed budget, which represents about a $4,000 decrease from the $9.23 million budget that was rejected in a referendum vote on May 13. Each item passed with minimal discussion.
“I think it reflects a very financially responsible budget, one that is both educationally and financially responsible,” said Superintendent Ken Coville, who asked residents to give support to the budget, which will now be presented for final approval at a referendum on June 10. The district includes the communities of Anson, Embden, New Portland, North Anson and Solon.
The $9,234,115 budget includes adjustments made by the school board including an increase in the amount of state subsidies the district will be receiving, a decrease in the amount of money the district will pay for programming at the county vocational center and about $1,000 in additional savings for administrative adjustments.
The total difference from the defeated budget is $4,259, and does not include any further cuts to educational programs or staff, said Coville.
“The citizens present at the last board meeting really urged the board to not reduce educational programming any further,” he said.
The budget, which is about 1.6 percent higher than the current school budget, still includes the loss of two teaching positions at the high school and administrative restructuring that will include a reduction in hours for the high school principal.
The elimination of the two teaching positions will not require layoffs because two teachers are retiring.
Other cuts in the budget include the elimination of the Jobs for Maine Graduates program at Carrabec Community School and a decrease in funding for special education by $20,000.
The main reasons for the budget increase comes from changes in state funding, including increased costs for charter schools and the shift in teacher retirement costs from the state to local districts, according to Coville.
Still, he said the proposed 2014-2015 budget is only 1.4 percent higher than the budget approved for the 2008-2009 school year.
At the referendum May 13, voters also rejected a $2 million bond that would be used to finance renovations at Carrabec High School. The school board has deferred action on the renovations, which Coville has called “much needed,” until after a budget is approved.
“We will continue to review that proposal over the summer once the budget process is completed,” he said.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368 | firstname.lastname@example.org