SKOWHEGAN — Spending from taxation for the coming school year in School Administrative District 54 will be up about $469,000, despite an increase of about $853,000 in state subsidy.

School board members will get a first draft of the 2012-13 budget at 7 p.m. Thursday in the middle school cafeteria.

Superintendent Brent Colbry said the total proposed budget is $32.33 million, up 4.3 percent, or about $1.3 million, from the current year’s. The state subsidy for the coming year comes in at $17.37 million, which is increasing largely because of increased special education costs. The state subsidy in the current budget is $16.52 million.

“It’s not so much the number of special education students; it’s the severity of the issues that the kids have, services you need to provide,” Colbry said.

The special education budget this year alone is up about $230,000, he said.

There also is a projected 4 percent increase in insurance premiums and a 2 percent increase in pay for all district employees, including Colbry and other administrators.

He said the salaries for eight teachers again will be paid for locally because of an end to federal funding for jobs under President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“That dried up — the Obama money,” Colbry said. “We all lost that, a little over $500,000 for us. Most districts were paying a certain number of teachers out of those funds. Now those teachers’ jobs have come back to the regular budget. We’ve been planning on that.”

Colbry said five staff positions will be reduced or eliminated across the district, including the position of principal at North Elementary School, to make ends meet in the coming budget year. The position of a full-time music teacher will not be filled, and an art teacher and a school nurse will be reduced to two days a week. A literacy specialist’s position also will not be filled.

On the plus side, Colbry said, the savings from a new telephone system in some district schools will save $30,000 this coming year, and the rate for electricity has been renegoitated at a lower cost. He said the cost savings from a switch to a biomass boiler system at the high school will be felt by October, when the system will be up and running.

The school board can make revisions to the budget before the final draft is voted on May 3 by the full board. A public hearing will be held on the final budget May 16.

The district budget meeting, when residents get to vote, is set for May 29.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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