PITTSFIELD — The School Administrative District 53 Board got its first official look at the proposed 2012-13 budget Monday, and as Superintendent Michael A. Gallagher put it, “We’ve hit the cliff this year.”

The district is asking for about $1.1 million in additional local money, nearly double the current year’s $577,209 allocation, to offset federal stimulus and other funding that is no longer available.

The total for the proposed budget is rising 2.95 percent to about $10.15 million.

Gallagher estimated that if the budget passes as recommended, taxes would increase:

• In Burnham, a homeowner with an $80,000 property would pay $64 more. The rate would rise $0.8 to $15.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.

• In Detroit, a homeowner with an $80,000 property would pay $98.40 more. The rate would rise $1.23 to $14.47 per $1,000 of assessed value.

• In Pittsfield, a homeowner with an $80,000 property would pay $43.20 more. The rate would rise $0.54 to $18.44 per $1,000 of assessed value.

After three consecutive years of receiving more than $848,000 of federal stimulas money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and nearly $250,000 in Medicare reimbursement funds, the Pittsfield-based district will probably get little or nothing from these programs this year, he said.

Less federal and state money means that the local share of the budget would go up, said Gallagher. “But when you consider that we’ve held the line as long as we have and with the cost of everything going up, I don’t think 2.95 percent is unreasonable.”

The district has 750 kindergarten through eighth grade students and 314 high school pupils attending Maine Central Institute, according to Gallagher.

“The population has leveled off in the past year,” he said. “But we’re down by about 150 students from five or six years ago.”

Gallagher said that the money was invested well. “We paid salaries, bought books, conducted in-service training and did a lot of positive things. But the additional money won’t be there this year.”

Nevertheless, the district is looking to restore or add hours to some positions that were eliminated in earlier budgets. Gallagher has recommended that the district add a third-grade teaching position, restore an assistant principal at both the pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade and middle school levels, add 15 hours per week to a maintenance position and upgrade the elementary guidance position from a two day per week job to full time. Five veteran teachers have also announced their retirement this year.

The superintendent said that restoring the assistant principals to the schools would improve school climate and safety as well as “provide additional supervision and evaluation.”

At previous Board of Directors’ meetings, restoration of the positions — especially at Warsaw Middle School — appeared to have widespread support.


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