VASSALBORO — Superintendent Eric Haley imposed a freeze on the community school’s budget Tuesday evening, as the school has eaten through more of its budget than expected by this point in the year.

Haley, speaking at a School Committee meeting, said about 70.68 percent of the school year has gone by but 85.19 percent of the school’s total $7.38 million budget already has been spent.

The school had to hire several education technicians that had not been budgeted for as well as other unexpected expenditures.

Haley said all requests for overtime pay will have to go through him before they can be approved.

The committee also unanimously voted to hire a current school employee as the principal to replace Dianna Gram next fall.

Megan Allen, who currently teaches mathematics for seventh and eighth grades at Vassalboro Community School, will be taking the reins when Gram leaves at the end of the school year.

At the meeting, Allen said that she wouldn’t have applied for a job as an administrator in any other district, but the thought of running the community school excites her.

“I love this community,” she said.

The nine-person search committee reviewed about 15 applications and narrowed the field to five candidates, who all underwent interviews by the committee. After the interviews, the board discussed each option and landed on Allen as their choice for the school’s next principal.

Allen has said she accepts the position and agreed on salary and benefits. She still needs to sign two sets of contracts.

Gram has worked at the school for 23 years, first as the assistant principal and special education director, and then taking over the role of principal from Kevin Michaud in 2010.

The board also discussed the drafted $7,946,000 budget for the next fiscal year, which is up by $564,064, or 7.64 percent, from the current fiscal year.

Superintendent Eric Haley said the budget was definitely a big number for Vassalboro.

Haley and the finance director, Paula Pooler, went over an analysis of what is driving up the cost of the budget and noted higher health insurance costs, a rise in teacher salaries, and the need to accommodate an incoming student with special needs.

The rise in teacher salaries reflects newly negotiated teacher contracts, which Haley said was necessary in order to retain the best teachers and keep pay competitive.

The administration does not yet know what health insurance costs will be, but the state has capped the increase at 9 percent, which is the increase reflected in the drafted budget. If there is a 10 percent increase, the difference from the current fiscal year will be an increase of $101,284. However, Pooler said that number could be less if the increase in rate is lower.

The school also is expecting a deaf child for the next academic year. In order to accommodate the child, the school will have to buy some special equipment and hire two staff members, which will cost about $118,000.

Haley and Pooler said they were looking at some options to bring down the cost before the board has to meet with the Budget Committee.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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