A proposed $32.3 million budget, up 4 percent from last year, is being reviewed by the Mt. Blue Regional School District board.

The proposed increase for the school district of about 2300 students and 450 employees is not as sharp a jump as last year’s $31 million budget, which rose 4.3 percent.

At presentations of the school budget in district towns, selectmen had told Superintendent Tom Ward that continuing to increase the budget by 4.3 percent year over year would be an unsustainable burden on local property taxes.

The school board heard the last of the proposals Tuesday night at the Mt. Blue Campus and will now start its deliberations over the different requests. The board will review the proposed budget throughout April before making a recommendation to voters. In order to pass, the budget will need approval from residents at the town meeting style vote on June 1 and at the referendum vote on June 9.

In past years, the initial budget request from the Farmington-based school district has been pared down during the board’s deliberations.

The district, Regional School Unit 9, includes 10 towns from three counties: Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Starks, Temple, Vienna, Weld and Wilton.

Leanne Condon, director of curriculum and assistant superintendent, said one of the most discussed budget items so far has been the request from the special services department.

The department is asking for $3.7 million or 14.3 percent more than the year before.

The $461,248 increase from the 2014-2015 school year includes funds for more personnel to meet the increased number of students in the district needing special services.

Condon said the request includes funding for a third social worker for the district and two additional special education teachers for the Mt. Blue Middle School in Farmington.

The board directors had requested at a previous budget meeting more information on special service costs, such as the amount of money the district is saving by having an in-house day treatment program. Superintendent Tom Ward said Tuesday night that he had been researching the questions and would have the information ready to present at the next budget workshop on Thursday night.

Ray Therrien, director of Franklin County Adult and Community Education, presented the last budget proposal at the Tuesday night meeting, a $131,760 request to the district.

Along with school district money, the proposed $385,490 adult education budget is made up of state, federal and county money and other outside revenue.

Therrien said in his budget presentation that the increase is accounted for in part by pay raises for three of the staff members.

“We were actually going to ask for even more, but we’re hoping we could do this in two year increments,” said Therrien.

He said the increase, if approved, would go toward compensating an administrative assistant and two instructors who do the basic education and college ready courses.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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