GARDINER — Officials with the Gardiner-area school district met with elected leaders in four communities Monday to give them an overview of the proposed School Administrative District 11 spending plan for the upcoming budget year.

At $25.7 million, the plan is about 3.8 percent higher that the current year’s budget; and unlike a year ago, the property taxes in Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner are expected to increase on the school portion of the tax bill.

To pay for that spending, a little more than half the money — $14.1 million — will come via state subsidy for education. The balance will come from a variety of sources, including student tuition, athletic gate receipts and interest. But the biggest portion is the $10 million that will come from property taxes.

“The hope for tonight is to just share with you some background information regarding students, our community, parents and what’s going on, ” Superintendent Patricia Hopkins said. “That information was the basis which we built our budget upon.”

Hopkins listed some highlights of the current year, including growth in statewide testing results, especially in science in the middle school; the addition of modular units in Pittston and the sale of the T.C. Hamlin School in Randolph; and the completion of active-shooter training for the majority of the staff.

Like many school districts, SAD 11 is expecting to continue to have a hard time filling vacancies for school bus drivers and finding substitute teachers in the upcoming school year, Hopkins said. The district also is expected to undergo changes to the English language arts and mathematics curricula, and it will continue to raise money to install artificial turf on Hoch Field at the high school to make it a multi-sport complex.


At the same time, Hopkins said, districtwide results of state assessments show improvement in English language arts, mathematics and particularly science, and after experiencing a decrease, the graduation rate is on the rise.

Every year, school administrators report out the state of the school to capture what happens in the schools daily. Among the findings during this school year is an increase in the number of students who have significant social and emotional needs, resulting from being homeless, having unstable living conditions, having a parent who has a drug addiction, has died or is serving a sentence in jail or prison.

“What’s happening in the classroom is we’re seeing students with greater and greater needs, and those are all playing out differently, depending on the age of the student,” she said. “Our teachers and administrators are challenged with supporting these students when they are having some outward expression of frustration because of what’s happening in their lives and trying to balance that with supporting all students in the classroom.”

The proposed budget would add a social worker and a board-certified behavioral analyst for students in pre-kindergarten through grade five for the first time. The budget also would fund an increase in the number of special education students who are placed outside the district, and make the athletic director’s job a full-time position.

The district’s budget incorporates increases to salaries, health insurance, replacing the roof at River View Community School, paving the parking lot at the high school and adding an elementary teacher at River View.

To balance the additional spending, the district has opted not to fill two teaching positions at the middle school after the retirement of two teachers, Hopkins said. Instead, the district will offer instruction in a team structure. A educational technician in special education has been cut, and the district is no longer obligated to pay any costs associated with owning the T.C. Hamlin School.


As the municipalities in the district have developed their own budgets, they have been mindful of the school budget’s effect on their property owners.

Within the district, Pittston and West Gardiner adopted their municipal budgets at Town Meeting in March. In Pittston, the annual spending plan increased by about 5 percent from the previous year; in West Gardiner, the increase was about 2.2 percent.

Gardiner is taking up its budget again this week when the Gardiner City Council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday; its agenda includes a public hearing on the spending plan and discussion of the proposal. A second public hearing, followed by discussion and debate, is scheduled for May 22. The first reading of the budget is scheduled for June 5, and the second and final reading is scheduled for June 19.

As proposed, the $6.35 million spending plan is nearly 5 percent higher than the current year’s budget. Negotiated increases in wages, workers’ compensation rate increases and the added cost of dispatching through the state’s Regional Communication Center make up most of the increase.

Randolph’s Town Meeting is scheduled for late July.

Gardiner Mayor Patricia Hart thanked the school district for its presentation, but she also had a question.


“The overall budget increased 3.82 percent, but the effect on local assessment is over 6 percent, and for Pittston, it’s almost 7 percent,” she said. “Can you explain how that works? What would I tell my next-door neighbor?”

“What we’re passing along to taxpayers is less than $600,000 of the $945,000 increase,” Hopkins said. “We do have some subsidy to offset it.”

Because there was a decrease last year, she said, this increase brings the district back to where it was a couple of years ago.

School board Chairwoman Becky Fles said some of the district’s costs are driven by having community schools in its towns.

“Is there any chance the state would send us more money?” Hart said.

“I haven’t caught wind of any,” Hopkins said.

“The good news is that they are not sending us any less, which has happened,” said Andrea Disch, the district’s business manager.

The school district’s budget presentation will be made at 6 p.m. May 16 at Gardiner Area High School. The districtwide budget meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 4 in the high school gymnasium. The budget referendum vote is scheduled for June 11.

Related Headlines

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.