The proposed Gardiner-based Regional School Unit 11 budget is less than half a percent higher than what voters approved last year, but an expected $500,000 drop in state subsidy contributes to a $480,000 increase in the amount requested from the communities.

At a meeting last week, the school board approved the $22.77 million budget, which is $348,000 higher than the budget approved last year. The communities in the district, Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner, will see their contributions to the budget increase between about 4.5 and 6.3 percent if voters approve the budget, leading to expected tax increases between $48 and $60 for $100,000 of assessed value.

The school board is scheduled to hold the budget meeting to approve all of the proposed articles at 6 p.m. May 26 at the Gardiner Area High School gymnasium. A referendum vote will then be held June 9 in all the communities to approve the entire budget.

Andrea Disch, business manager for the district, said the district is trying to balance the needs of the students with the amount taxpayers can pay.

“I think it’s a continuing struggle,” she said.

The largest increase in the proposed budget comes from salaries going up an average of 2 percent, totaling $270,000. The amount the district must contribute to the state retirement system also rose, increasing the budget by $81,000.

The largest of the $834,000 worth of cuts or decreases is from health insurance decreasing by $270,000. The school board is also proposing to cut around $265,000 from maintenance and facilities.

“It’s one of those areas we look to when we have cuts,” Disch said of maintenance. “There aren’t a lot of places when we’re charged with cutting a lot of money other than personnel, and at this point, we have no additional personnel to cut.”

Proposed cuts do include eliminating an unfilled teacher position at Laura E. Richards School and two unfilled special education positions at Gardiner Regional Middle School because it doesn’t appear demand will warrant them, Disch said.

However, the district is adding three ed tech positions to the three elementary schools because administrators there say they don’t have adequate staffing to handle students who need one-on-one help, Disch said.

Although it’s not requiring more money to be raised, the district is planning to have $3.6 million in energy saving projects done in the next year. The district chose Siemens to do the performance contract, which will allow the district to fund the improvements through energy or fuel savings, Disch said.

The district will replace boilers at the middle and high schools, replace lighting and make other efficiency improvements, she said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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