SKOWHEGAN — Still anticipating a shortfall this coming year in state funding, the School Administrative District 54 school board went back to the cutting table and came back with a proposed 2017-18 budget that is about $174,000, or half of 1 percent, lower than the current budget passed this time last year.

The proposed budget that goes to the annual budget meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the high school gymnasium is $33,800,864, SAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry said. The original draft budget presented by the board in April showed an increase in the overall budget by 1.35 percent to come in at $34,435,319.

“We actually reduced that number to a negative number,” Colbry said.

State aid remains down $878,779 from the current allocation, he said.

He said a total of seven and a half positions are eliminated districtwide in the new proposed budget, including one elementary school principal position. Cuts to close the gap were made in supplies, equipment, textbooks, field trips and extracurricular activities. A restructuring of technology purchases away from one-time purchases to a multi-year approach is also included. On the cutting board also is the elimination of a new bus purchase this year and reducing the maintenance budget by $46,000.

Colbry said increases in spending came with the addition of five special education staff, a 9.56 percent increase in health insurance costs, a shift of $93,363 in Maine state retirement costs from the state to the district, and increases in contracted services, fuel, supplies, books and technology.

To reduce the budget, Colbry said, the board made at least a 10 percent decrease in all nonpersonnel areas of the budget and up to 50 percent in some areas.

Colbry said the positions of four teachers who are retiring will not be filled in the proposed budget, but with high enrollment at Mill Stream Elementary School in Norridgewock, a kindergarten teacher will need to be added. The current principal at Margaret Chase Smith Elementary School is retiring, so the plan, Colbry said, is to combine the principal’s job there with that of North Elementary School, resulting in one principal for both schools.

A portion of a social studies position is cut under the new spending package and a vacant half-position in teacher computer support at the high school will not be filled.

Two educational technician positions also will be eliminated, he said.

Colbry said that even with all the cuts amounting to $1.74 million from this year’s original proposed draft, it left the need for about $500,000 to close the revenue gap spread out over the six towns of SAD 54. The local assessment in the proposed budget is about $14.3 million, which is up $500,000 from the current budget that expires June 30.

He said the local assessment closes the gap between the $17.8 million from the state and the $33.8 million needed to round out the entire budget for the coming year.

Highlights of the proposed budget to be voted on Wednesday night include:

• $11.9 million for regular instruction;

• $7.7 million for special education;

• $2.4 million for student and staff support;

• $1.5 million for school administration;

• $1.9 million for transportation and buses; and

• $2.2 million for debt service and other commitments.

The SAD 54 budget validation referendum vote is scheduled for each town June 13.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

dharlow@centralmaine.com

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow