SKOWHEGAN — Residents of the six towns of School Administrative District 54 breezed through 18 articles of the proposed budget for the coming year Tuesday night, approving them all.

Spending in the 2015-16 budget will increase about $356,000, or about 1 percent to a total of $34,205,187.

The SAD 54 budget was approved by voters last year at $33,849,235. The new budget takes effect July 1.

“I’m very satisfied. The board worked very hard to bring a reasonable budget for the community to support,” Superintendent Brent Colbry said after the vote. “I didn’t see any opposition.”

Local allocations, or taxes paid to support the budget beyond what the state provides, will increase $50,290, or 0.35 percent, to be spread over the district towns of Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield. Skowhegan’s projected share of the overall budget will be down to 66.85 percent from 67.19 percent because of the lower tax valuation of the Sappi paper mill.

The other five district towns will pick up the difference, with Norridgewock shouldering the lion’s share of the $50,290 local increase.


The effect on each town, adjusted for changes in individual town property values, are as follows:

Canaan: $18,090

Cornville: -$7,467

Mercer: $10,406

Norridgewock: $40,102

Skowhegan: -$13,999


Smithfield: $3,158

Total: $50,290, or 0.3501 percent.

Budget highlights in show-of-hands voting included $12,166,837 for regular instruction, $7,309,546 for special education and $2,088,790 for school buses and transportation.

The district will save $964,000 that had been earmarked for charter school tuition and transportation for students living in SAD 54 who attend charter schools. But the Legislature passed a bill taking the charter school tuition money out of state aid for all local districts in Maine.

The elimination of $964,000 in charter school tuition and associated transportation costs in the school budget for the coming year will be offset in part by added costs in special education, school bus purchases and pay raises for teachers and district administrators, including Colbry.

The new budget also includes hikes in health insurance and a 13 percent increase in payments into the Maine State Retirement System, a cost that the state has been shifting to the cities and towns.


There also are five new education technician positions for special education and a new special education teacher in the budget. There are no layoffs in the proposal, Colbry said. A teacher has been added to the Norridgewock school because of increased class size.

On average, teachers will see a pay raise of about 3.3 percent for what is the final year of a three-year contract, he said.

Colbry said teachers have gone without pay raises for two years. Administrators, including himself, have gone without a raise for three years. About 18 administrators also would receive $2,500 each as a competitive “adjustment” on top of a 3.3 percent increase included in the proposed budget.

Colbry’s pay increase will be part of a new three-year contract.

“It’s been three years. I’ve been four years without any kind of an increase, and so the board decided I should be treated the same as all the other people,” Colbry said earlier this month. “We’re three years out. Things have changed, responsibilities have changed, and the board was interested in terminating the old contract and writing a new one for three years.”

Colbry, 63, would retire in 2018 under the old agreement, but the board also has considered allowing him to retire this year and be rehired at a 25 percent reduced salary, which he said would be a saving of about $35,000 a year for taxpayers.


His salary has a base of $110,000, plus cash reimbursements for not taking the district’s health benefits package. In all, with workers compensation, unemployment and Maine State Retirement, Colbry is paid the annual equivalent of $141,679.

Colbry said that among the changes in his responsibilities over the past three years is the loss of a business manager and a facilities manager, which meant additional responsibilities for the superintendent.

The school budget validation referendum — final approval of the budget for the coming year — is set for Tuesday, June 9, in all six district towns.

Polls will be open at the following times.

Canaan: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cornville: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Mercer: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Norridgewock: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Skowhegan: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Smithfield: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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