WATERVILLE — The Waterville Board of Education on Monday voted to add a school bus, a half-time music teacher and a stipend for a garden program instructor to the proposed $24.82 million school budget for 2019-20, increasing it to $24.88 million.

That figure reflects an increase from the $23.8 million budget the board approved last year.

Superintendent Eric Haley, pictured here at a school board committee meeting July 11, 2018, at Waterville Senior High School, said Monday that a bus that had been cut from the Waterville school budget was added back in. The state reimburses districts for new buses, which saves money on repairs. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

The new figure — and officials said it could change — represents a 5.74 percent increase over that budget and brings the total amount being asked of the city in new taxes to $453,712, according to the schools’ finance director, Paula Pooler. She said the music teacher, the bus and the garden instructor stipend increased the proposed budget by $59,229.

“There are still some unresolved items, and state subsidy would be the last one we’re waiting for,” Pooler said after the meeting.

“When they (state legislators) take the final vote, we’ll find out if our figures are going to change,” she said.

The board on Monday considered the bus, the half-time music teacher position and the garden instructor stipend separately, voting 6-1 on each, with board member Maryanne Bernier the lone opponent on each.

The bus item was for $22,085. The schools lease buses for five years at that amount per year and then own them. The half-time music position comes in at $32,144; and the garden instructor stipend, $5,000.

The budget initially contained a request for two buses, but the board had cut one bus at a prior meeting. On Monday, board members added it back. Of 12 buses that operate per day on regular runs, five have more than 140,000 miles on them and repair is needed more and more, according to Superintendent Eric Haley.

The schools had budgeted $90,000 for repairs this year and already have spent $100,000, he said.

“Next year, we budgeted $100,000, which is not going to be enough,” he said.

Pooler said if a second bus were not added into the budget, the $90,000 repair budget would have to be increased to $130,000 or $140,000.

“If we buy two buses, we’ll be doing a lot better than if we don’t,” she said.

Haley noted that if the state approves a bus purchase, the schools are reimbursed 100 percent for it.

The garden program at Albert S. Hall School used a food corps AmeriCorps volunteer for the last four years, and this was the last year for that volunteer. School officials would have to hire a person to take that position.

Haley said before the board’s vote to add the three items to the proposed budget that a large number of students in kindergarten through grade 12 are signing up for music.

Pooler said earlier Monday that the cost for health insurance was expected to increase but it did not, saving schools $349,492.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 13 at Mid-Day Cafe at Mid-Maine Technical Center.

Meanwhile, the board will meet April 30 with the City Council to discuss budgets.

In other matters, Waterville Senior High School Principal Brian Laramee reported that the school’s Science Olympiad team placed second in the state meet but the school that placed first, Waynflete, a private school in Portland, decided not to go to the national event at Cornell University, so Waterville planned to compete. The board voted unanimously to approve a request for the team to attend the event. Laramee said the team is raising money for the trip.

 

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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