CHELSEA — Voters soon will have the final say on the Regional School Unit 12’s proposed budget, which includes a 3.6% spending increase.

The $23,022,981 budget was confirmed with little said earlier this month by about 70 voters at Chelsea Elementary School. The spending plan is $799,689 more than the current budget’s $22.22 million.

The budget still can be rejected by voters in seven member municipalities — Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield and Windsor — in a June 11 referendum. If it were to be voted down, district officials would have to look for areas to trim, which was a topic of discussion in Chelsea earlier this month.

Chelsea Selectman Mike Pushard, when discussing road repairs with Chelsea residents during a May 9 Select Board meeting, suggested voting down the RSU 12 budget to save the town some tax money for other projects.

“One vote down for that school budget would save us $40,000 to $50,000 on our end,” he said. “That’s almost more important than coming to our annual town budget and voting for your municipal budget.”

Superintendent Howard Tuttle said he was aware of Facebook posts about voting down the budget but had not heard directly from anyone planning to vote against it.

The largest spending increase is for tuition the district pays out for high school students. Because RSU 12 doesn’t have a high school, its students attend area schools and the district pays tuition.

In the proposed budget, the district is estimating $4,850,868 in tuition for high schoolers, a $356,978 — or 7.94% — increase from the current spending plan.

The district will offset the $23 million spending plan with $10,914,611 in state subsidies and other revenue, $392,885 — or a 3.73% increase — over last year’s revenue. Municipalities must make up a total of $12.1 million, and each town pays $13.750 per student it adds to the district.

The breakdown per member town:

• Alna is projected to pay, $969,050, an increase of $12,586.88 — or 1.3% — from the current $956,464.

• Chelsea is projected to pay, $2,477,835, an increase of $137,434 — or 5.87% — from the current $2,340,401.

• Palermo is projected to pay, $1,880,229, an increase of $10,432 — or 0.55% — from the current $1,869,797.

• Somerville is projected to pay, $640,490, an increase of $29,977 — or 4.9% — from the current $610,513.

• Westport Island is projected to pay, $750,115, an increase of $33,883 — or 4.7% — from the current $716,232.

• Whitefield is projected to pay, $2,268,630, an increase of $43,422 — or 1.95% — from the current $2,225,208.

• Windsor is projected to pay, $3,122,019, an increase of $139.068 — or 4.66% — from the current $2,982,951.

Instruction and tuition for pre-kindergarten to eighth grade is up 2.3% from $6,377,185 to $6,510,861. These jumps in instruction costs directly correlate to a rising number of students in the district.

The budget estimates about 24 more students than last year. Four towns are anticipated to have increases in their number of students. They are Chelsea, with about 22 more students; Windsor, 16; Somerville, four; and Westport Island, one. The other towns are anticipated to send a decreased number of students: Alna, about seven; Whitefield, six; and Palermo, about four.

The budget also reflects three position cuts: one custodian, a first-grade teacher in Windsor and a pre-kindergarten position in Chelsea.

Tuttle said Chelsea’s pre-K program was paid for entirely by funds outside of the town’s local shares, but attendance has hovered around 22 students since it started. As each of the program’s two rooms can hold 32 students, one could be cut and the class size increased with no children left unserved.

Before the May 16 vote, residents believed the program should have remained and children should have been bused from other member towns to take part in pre-K. Tuttle said transporting pupils to Chelsea Elementary School and back could get costly.


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