Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18’s proposed budget for 2021-22 is $40,492,119, a 1.7% increase to current spending.

“Most of the increases are salary and benefit increases,” Superintendent Carl Gartley said at a school board meeting Wednesday night.

RSU 18, which enrolls about 2,500 students at eight schools in Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney, hosted a public budget meeting last week. The board is expected to review the proposed budget again at its next meeting, set to begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14.

“This is the budget I’ll be asking you to adopt,” Gartley said.

A major savings comes as RSU 18 is no longer the fiscal agent for Day One’s residential teen substance use treatment program in Hinckley, cutting expenses for that program from different articles within the budget. The district has had two teachers connected to the program in past years, but no longer has to pay those salaries and other fees.

Budgeted stipends went from being counted on a per-building basis to a single line, a different manner than last year.

“That’s just how we’ve done it this year,” Gartley said.

A board member asked how supplies are calculated. In response, Gartley said teachers and staff members submit proposed budgets to principals. Those budgets then go to the superintendent’s office.

Gartley said principals were encouraged this year to keep budgets as flat as possible.

The cost of instruction is 44.02% of the proposed 2021-22 budget, while special education instruction is 10.26%. RSU 18’s transportation costs have been decreased by 1.11% in the 2021-22 budget. Meantime, salaries benefits make up nearly three-quarters of the total 1.37% budget increase.

Messalonskee High School Principal Paula Callan also addressed the board concerning graduation requirements. Callan asked the board to waive the 40 hours of community service required before students may graduate.

“With the pandemic,” Callan said, “it has impacted the students’ ability to do community service projects.”

The board voted unanimously to approve Callan’s request, having done the same for last year’s senior class.

The board also discussed a five-year list of facilities repairs and projects. The district receives a $3,000 discount on its insurance coverage for having such a list, according to Gartley.

The board is expected to discuss the list again at its next meeting.

“We can change our list,” Gartley said. “It can change every six months, but if we have a list, we get a discount.”

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