JEFFERSON — Teachers layoffs will likely be needed at Jefferson Village School after residents approved a budget on Tuesday with an additional $240,000 in cuts to regular education.
Residents passed the $4,937,397 budget for kindergarten-through-grade 12 education by a 370–306 vote.

The cuts will likely lead to a combination of at least one full-time teacher being laid off, two full-time teacher positions going unfilled and a reduction in art, music and physical education classes, according to Robert Westrich, chairman of the school board.

The school board is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. today at the school to discuss the next steps.
Tuesday’s vote brought out 676 voters, as opposed to the 149 who rejected the budget in June.

The $240,000 cut to the regular instruction category in the budget is “not good news for the school,” said Steven Bailey, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 93 after votes were counted last night.

Bailey said earlir that the budget means “there would be cuts to existing staff, and I would need to issue 90 day loss-of-employment notifications to those that will be affected.”

He said he and other district and school administration will present options of ways to eliminate $240,000 during tonight, and the school board will likely make final decisions on the cuts at its Aug. 5 meeting.

With the school year scheduled to start Sept. 3, staff will be laid off after school starts, Bailey said.
Voters rejected the first budget attempt, $200,000 more than the one accepted Tuesday, by a 83–66 vote on June 4.

After the June vote, the school board used additional state subsidy to fund for another teacher position, while reducing the amount needed to be raised by taxes.

But residents still cut $240,000 from the regular education portion of the budget proposed by the board during the open town meeting.

The regular education budget includes teacher salaries and benefits, classroom supplies and tuition for high school students, who mostly go to Lincoln Academy and Erskine Academy.

Bailey said the reasoning behind the $240,000 cut by residents was to make the local contribution closer to the amount recommended by the state’s Essential Programs and Services funding model.

The EPS formula determines how much the state will fund schools and gives targets for the amount of taxes raised for local education.

More than 76 percent of Maine schools exceeded the targets set by EPS, according to a report released by the Office of Policy and Management in January.

Kristi Bisset, president of the Jefferson Village School Parent Teacher Association, said on Tuesday before the polls closed that she was “sitting on pins and needles waiting for (the) day to be over.”

The parent teacher association advocated against budget and sent a letter to all parents educating them about the vote.

Bisset, with three children at the school, said her biggest concern about the cuts is the increase in class size and the decrease in classroom help that will come with fewer teachers.

“Having been in the classroom myself, subbing and volunteering, classroom are needy. Classroom are demanding,” she said. “A teacher’s work — it’s hard work keeping everything in order.”

Bisset said that although she’s against the cuts, she’s confident the school board will make its decision with input from the public.

“I’m confident they’re going to do that best job they can as far as addressing this amount and if those cuts need to be made,” she said. “I’m confident they’re going to listen to everybody that has something to say about it.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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