FARMINGTON — Superintendent Michael Cormier unveiled a proposed Mt. Blue school budget Tuesday of $29.4 million, up 1.7 percent from the current budget.

Cormier said the budget depends on whether the state decides to pass along retirement costs to the school district. He said if those costs are passed along, the budget will increase 2.7 percent to $29.7 million.

More than 78 percent of the budget is for salaries and benefits, Cormier said.

The budget also includes money for renovating the Cascade Brook playground, fixing the leaning Academy Hill School retaining wall, installing a biomass boiler to save on heating costs, adding two custodial positions for the larger Mt. Blue campus, and for water and sewer increases at the Mt. Blue campus.

The budget committee felt the school needed a special education day-treatment program and an assistant principal for the Mallet School but decided not to include those costs in the budget.

Cormier said the budget accounts for $135,250 in curtailments from the state, enacted in January.

He also said the school district has traditionally had $440,000 in surplus which it had used to reduce the tax burden. This year the school will have around $202,000 in surplus, less than half the normal amount.

Cormier said taxpayers should take note that the cost to educate an average student is $1,000 lower than the state average.

The school district has the 89th highest average cost per pupil out of 103 three school districts. The average cost for a student to be educated at Mt. Blue is $8,446 per student compared to the average cost of $9,727 per student.

Cormier said the budget committee’s priorities when creating the budget were maintaining teacher-pupil ratios with the district; retaining current programming; addressing needs in special education; and addressing the increase in fixed cost charges.

Fixed cost charges, such as building insurance, tuition and negotiated salaries, are set to increase by $617,000 in the proposed budget. Cormier said this is offset by a $358,860 decrease in bonded debt payments.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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