HALLOWELL — Regional School Unit 2 officials want to know if residents have any ideas for saving money without sacrificing educational quality.

They also want the public to know that their school taxes will probably increase significantly next year, and to understand why that is.

RSU 2 is hosting public information meetings this week to outline the budget system and gather feedback before the finance committee starts finalizing decisions on Thursday and the full school board votes on the budget next week.

The meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at Hall-Dale High School, 6 p.m. Tuesday at Richmond High School, and 6 p.m. Wednesday at Monmouth Academy.

“I’m hoping that some people may have some ideas about how we might further save money,” said Finance Committee Chairman Bill Matthews, a school board member from Dresden. “I’m also hoping that people will listen to the complete explanation about why things are as they are this year.”

RSU 2 is looking at a $24.4 million budget for next year, up 5 percent from this year because of costs that Matthews said are out of the board’s control, such as fuel and an 8 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

The governor’s proposal to shift a portion of state retirement costs to school districts would cost RSU 2 $339,151. The state also is requiring local communities to pay a higher mill rate, which would increase the total local contribution from the five RSU 2 municipalities by $276,728 even if spending were flat.

“We want to make folks very aware that a majority of increases are coming from the state,” Superintendent Virgel Hammonds said.

At the meetings, RSU 2 officials will talk about some of the cuts that may be made.

Matthews said the district could potentially save some money by contracting all bus service to a private company, but they want to be sure the company would hire the district’s drivers and maintain the same routes because people want continuity.

School district jobs on the chopping block include two elementary or middle school teachers, a high school teacher, a principal and an adult education director.

District officials are planning to eliminate the position of Monmouth Middle School principal and have the Cottrell Elementary School and Monmouth Academy principals share responsibility for the middle school. That would bring Monmouth in line with Richmond and Hall-Dale, with a K-5 principal, a sixth through 12th grade principal, and a town assistant principal.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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