Residents of the School Administrative District 13 towns of Bingham and Moscow can expect some tax relief in the coming school year, as a new budget heads to public hearings and a final vote sometime in May.

Contacted by phone Wednesday, SAD 13 Superintendent Virginia Rebar said the school board finalized the budget for the coming year at about 5 percent less than the $3.65 million spending package approved by voters last year. That’s a drop of about $185,000.

Quimby Middle School in Bingham, seen Feb. 28, is scheduled to close this summer. Moscow and Bingham residents voted in March for the closure, which is expected to save them money in the school budget for next year. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

“It’s pretty much the same,” Rebar said of the proposed budget. “They did reduce a little bit in the special education tuition line. There’s still enough in there for one-and-a-half students to attend an outplacement, so they felt they were secure in that area. They’re very pleased that the budget was reduced from last year. A lot of that has to do with new teachers coming in with a much lower salary than the teachers that left.”

The board finalized the spending package for the coming year Monday night and plans to meet again at 7 p.m. Thursday at Quimby Middle School to sign the budget warrants and get them out to the two towns. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled tentatively for May 23, with the final referendum vote to be held May 26, but Rebar said those dates are not etched in stone.

Rebar said the decision to close Quimby Middle School was a way of addressing declining enrollment and to save money. She said about $66,800 is projected to be saved by closing the school.

Quimby, the only middle school in School Administrative District 13, is poised to close this summer after residents in Bingham and Moscow voted in March to do so.

In Bingham, the measure passed 83- 71. In Moscow, residents approved the closure 84- 12.

The current enrollment at Quimby is 45 students, but that number would have been expected to fall to 25 students by the 2023-2024 school year.

In the last eight years, total enrollment in the district has dropped from 254 students to 179.

Once the school is closed, the district plans to move grade 4 to Moscow Elementary School, and grades 5 and 6 will move to Upper Kennebec Valley Memorial Junior Senior High School, which now houses grades seven through 12.

Last year SAD 13 voters approved a spending package of $3,653,899, or about $154,200 more than the approved budget the previous year. That effort took four separate votes after residents rejected the proposed spending packages and pushed the final approval all the way into October, when it passed by just six votes at $3,499,635.

In last year’s final tally, Moscow residents voted 49 yes, 29 no; Bingham, 119 yes, 68 no, for a total of 168 yes, 97 no.

This year, Rebar said, the budget process went a lot more smoothly than last year.

“I think it’s a very good budget. I think it’s sufficient and it keeps the district rolling in a positive direction,” Rebar said Wednesday. “I’m pleased that the impact on the taxpayers will be minimal. We’re pleased pretty much overall.”

Leo Hill, of Bingham, chairman of the SAD 13 board of directors, agreed.

“It’s amazing,” Hill said Wednesday. “It’s amazing that we were able to get the budget down that much. It was mainly due to closing Quimby School and replacing some higher-end teacher contracts with newer teachers. I was very pleased. I speak for myself, but I was very pleased with it.”

 

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