OAKLAND — When community members and the Regional School Unit 18 School Board examine the proposed $33.1 million budget for 2012-13, which is $1.1 million more than current spending, Superintendent Gary Smith hopes they keep Rosie the Riveter in mind.

He said the World War II icon’s ralling cry “We Can Do It” is as timely today as it was then.

Sacrifice and hard work will be needed for the Oakland-based district to provide a quality education in these challenging fiscal times, he said.

“We all need to pull together to make this work,” Smith said.

The proposed $33.1 million budget that Smith unveiled to directors Wednesday night represents the loss of three teaching positions and three educational technician positions.

He said he believed those reductions would be absorbed through attrition so that layoffs wouldn’t be necessary.

The proposed budget, Smith said, maintains all current programs and keeps class sizes within the district’s targeted ranges.

He said the ranges are: 15-17 students in kindgarten-second grade, 16-18 students in third-fifth grade and fewer than 20 students in grades six-12.

While the proposed budget is $1.1 million more than this year’s operating budget, it is $300,000 less than it was five years ago, Smith said

The $1.1 million increase would be assessed to four of the district’s towns: $325,000 in Belgrade; $245,000 in China; $395,000 in Oakland; and $166,000 in Sidney.

Rome’s tax assessment, said Smith, would decrease $27,500.

“We’re facing unprecedented financial times,” Smith said, adding the challenges represent a revenue problem rather than a spending problem.

“For the past four years we have been facing significant losses of revenues while expenses have stayed constant or grew,” Smith wrote in his blog on the district website.

For instance, Smith said, in 2008-09 the state contributed $16.9 million for the district’s essential programs and services, but next year it will contribute $13.5 million.

In 2008-09, the required local contribution to operate the district was $11.8 million. Next year, Smith said, it’s $16 million.

School administrators have put in considerable work to come up with the proposed budget, Smith said.

“It may not be where people think it needs to be but it was hard getting to this point,” he said.

“For me, in this process, I try to be a problem-solver. But this budget will have to push additional dollars to the local community.”

The School Board’s first of three budget workshops is scheduled for April 10 at Messalonskee Middle School. Topics of discussion are regular instruction, career technical education, adult education and debt service.

Additional budget workshops are scheduled for April 11 and 12.

The board is tentatively scheduled to adopt a budget May 2, then hold public hearings around the five-town district.

Regional School Unit 18’s budget hearing and vote is May 23 and the budget referendum is June 12.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]

Most of the towns in Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18 will see property tax increases if the 2012-13 budget passes as proposed at $33.1 million. The estimate is based on 2011 state valuation figures.

* In Belgrade, a homeowner with a $100,000 property would pay $51 more.

* In China, a homeowner with a $100,000 property would pay $59 more.

* In Oakland, a homeowner with a $100,000 property would pay $79 more.

* In Sidney, a homeowner with a $100,000 property would pay $44 more.

* In Rome, a homeowner with a $100,000 property would pay $8.50 less.


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