WINSLOW — Residents approved a proposed $1.89 million budget to fund Alternative Organizational Structure 92 for the 2018-19 school year at the board’s meeting Wednesday evening, though it’s still up in the air whether that budget will actually go into effect in July.

Before the vote, Superintendent Eric Haley explained that the AOS board was in the process of creating a plan to dissolve itself so that it can pursue a restructuring as a regional service center. He said if the AOS, which represents Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow, does indeed dissolve, the budget the residents were about to take a vote on would not go into effect because the AOS would no longet exist.

“If we vote to dissolve AOS 92 this budget will be null and void. It would be moot,” Haley said.

Haley did not go into detail about why the board is interested in disolving the district, but offered to answer questions from residents after the vote.

The budget that about 17 voters approved Wednesday is an increase of $103,582 from that of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Haley said that the two major factors that constitute about 74% of the incease are the superintendent’s salary and the administrative costs for special education.

The $30,990 bump in cost for a superintendent will only occur if the AOS remains in tact. Haley plans to step down from his role if the district is not dissolved because of the work load that comes with overseeing three school systems. Haley said the reason it would cost more to hire a new superintendent is partly because Haley receives health care coverage from his retirement package, and the AOS would have to pay those costs for Haley’s successor.

The $43,427 increase in funding for special education administration is due to the reorganizing of how that department is managed. Within the last year, the former director and assistant director for special education quit and told the superintendent’s office that the way the department was structured was not working. Upon their departure, the board decided to hire a director who worked one day a week as well as two assistant directors. The addition of a second assistant director is the reason for the increase.

Without any discussion, residents gave their approval of the $1,894,017.78 budget and all of its articles. If the AOS remains in tact, that budget will go into effect on July 1, 2018, when the next fiscal year begins. The residents of each community within the AOS will also vote on budgets for their respective school systems, which will include the money assessed to the AOS for the administrative costs of running their systems.

Haley told the Morning Sentinel in an interview last Thursday that the plan to dissolve the district should be complete by the last week of December. The AOS 92 board then would hold a special meeting to approve the plan. If the board approves the plan, it is expected to go to the state education commissioner in early January. If the commissioner’s office approves the plan, it will be on the ballot as a referendum question during a special election, tentatively scheduled for March 13. It then would take a majority of only one municipalitiy’s voters favoring the proposal to dissolve the district.

The regional service center that the district is pursuing is a school system structuring model being pushed by the state Department of Education. State officials say having local school systems regionalize and share some of their services should maximize efficiencies in districts. Some of the restructuring would include contracting for administrative work, such as tasks relating to payroll and accounts payable, to other regional service centers. AOS 92 is interested in the restructuring so that it can secure a reimbursement from the state for the cost of the district’s administration.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9238

[email protected]

Twitter: EmilyHigg


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