WATERVILLE — The Waterville Board of Education took the first of two needed votes Monday night to approve a proposed $25.7 million budget for 2020-21 that represents a 3.39% increase from the current $24.9 million budget.

The 6-0 vote came after the board reviewed several adjustments to an initial proposed $25.8 million budget that brought the numbers down.

The new proposal represents an $843,647 increase from current spending and requires $30,444 less in local taxes than was needed this year.

A second vote is required to finalize the budget. The board is expected to hold that vote after the City Council approves the proposed municipal and school budgets.

The school board meeting was live-streamed for the public via a link on the schools’ website.

School administrators met April 10 to propose adjustments to the initial $25.8 million budget after the board directed them April 7 to reduce the amount requested in local taxes.

School Superintendent Eric Haley said earlier Monday those adjustments include several items that school officials have been assured will be funded through the federal CARES Act because they are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the Albert S. Hall School needed $1,500 worth of MacBooks and $3,400 for Waterville Senior High School MacBooks, both for special education, and those costs would be funded through the CARES Act.

Students are learning online because of COVID-19, and school officials have a good argument that laptops are needed for those who do not have the necessary technology, according to Haley.

“We have about 30 families that don’t have connectivity,” he said. “We have a plan in place to make sure everyone has a computer and hot spots this week for the rest of the year. We will probably continue that into next year.”

Other budget adjustments included taking $34,800 out of the proposed school budget for the Math Series Envision program for the George J. Mitchell School, which Haley said can be purchased in this year’s budget due to a savings realized from not having to use as much heat in buildings because students are at home.

The schools also are saving money because they are not hiring substitute teachers, according to Haley.

A $45,340 heat recovery unit and a $5,200 air conditioning split unit for the Mitchell School are expected to be covered by the CARES Act funding. A $45,240 savings is expected to be realized in electricity costs because the schools signed an agreement to bring in renewable solar energy, Haley said.

Other changes:

• $19,600 for Hall School Math Series Envision program, which can be funded in this year’s budget instead of next year’s.

• $9,500 for a floor cleaning machine at the Hall School, which the CARES Act would fund.

• $7,600 for window repair.

• $6,500 to seal windows at the high school, also covered by CARES Act.

• $3,000 for tile replacement at Waterville Junior High School.

Haley said city schools asked for two new buses but were approved for one, representing a $20,380 savings.

Waterville does not know yet how much money it will receive through the CARES Act.

The adjustments represent the fourth round of budget adjustments approved by the Board of Education.

In other matters Monday, the board voted 6-0 to approve an online learning plan for the remainder of the school year. Haley said for the state Department of Education to waive the mandate that schools have a number of seat days, or those days that students are in the actual schools, schools must submit minutes of a board meeting where members vote to approve an online learning plan.

That plan is a districtwide document that includes information about food service, elementary and high school learning, staffing, professional development, teacher evaluations, virtual meetings, learning from home, technology and learning expectations.

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