OAKLAND — The Regional School Unit 18 Board will consider $565,000 in proposed cuts to next year’s budget Wednesday at a busy board meeting.

The board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at Williams Elementary School on Pleasant Street in Oakland.

The budget cuts, outlined by Superintendent Gary Smith at a workshop last Wednesday, include eliminating teaching positions, charter school funding and sports and music programs.

A $34.7 million budget proposed by the board earlier this year was rejected by voters in the five-town district in a ballot referendum May 19. A majority of residents in Belgrade, Sidney and Rome voted against the budget, but it won most votes in China and Oakland.

In an interview Tuesday, School Board Chairwoman Laura Tracy said that the board is expected to vote on an amended budget that would go to a June 30 referendum.

“We have it on our agenda to approve the budget tomorrow night,” Tracy said.


Although the proposed budget failed at the polls 747-619 — in five towns that collectively have 13,782 registered voters, as of November — last week’s workshop attracted a large group of parents, teachers and staff members opposed to more cuts to education.

The message that board members are receiving from the public is also against further budget reductions, Tracy said Tuesday.

That could put the board in a tough position when it takes the budget to another referendum, and it may have to balance opposition to higher spending and tax hikes with support for increased spending on education.

“If we go too far, we aren’t going to pass it, because there is resistance to cutting too much,” Tracy said.

The budget proposed by the board was a 2.77 percent increase over the previous year’s spending plan. Last week, Smith said the board would have to reduce the budget by $425,000 to $450,000 to get the increase down to 1.35 percent.

A likely cut is nearly $115,000 the board budgeted for payments to charter schools. A recent change in state law means that payments to charter schools will be made directly from the Maine Department of Education, so local school districts don’t need to budget for the payments. School board members proposed removing the funding at a budget meeting in May, but voters decided to keep the money in the budget.


Proposed staff cuts include three teaching positions at James H. Bean, Belgrade Central and China Primary elementary schools, delaying the planned hire of a technology deployment specialist and reducing of an English language arts position to half time. Smith also recommended cutting a pay raise for administrators from 3 percent to 1.5 percent.

Recommended programming cuts include eliminating freshmen sports, winter competitive cheering and pep band. Potential cuts include music lessons, expensive or low-participation sports and middle school drama, although Smith’s administration is not recommending those cuts.

Implementing a pay-to-play program fee, which could bring in an estimated $75,000 in revenue, also is not recommended by the administration, according to Smith.

A $50,000 cut to health care costs and the elimination of three bus runs in China, a savings of about $78,000, are being recommended, Smith said.

Health care cuts are being based on the hope that new employees will enroll in the system as single people without dependents, Smith said.

“That could bite us. We could be over on health care,” he said.


“People think there is a lot of room in this budget, when there isn’t,” he added.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.