GARDINER — A work in progress, the Maine School Administrative District 11’s budget for the 2021-2022 school year is expected to come with spending and local share increases.

The MSAD 11 school board’s Finance Committee heard an overview Tuesday night from Business Manager Andrea Disch, outlining the $26.82 million spending plan. In the initial draft, spending is increasing by $663,000 — or 2.53% — over the current budget.

Disch said the budget is a “work in progress,” adding that district did not get as much funding from the state this year and will have to raise it as part of the town allocation.

“We didn’t actually lose revenue, we just didn’t get as much,” she said. “It makes it difficult. We talk about funding sources, and the only real sources are through the state and local share. We receive a small amount from tuition, but when the state doesn’t give as much, it’s difficult.”

As currently proposed, the town allocations for the 2021-2022 budget will increase by $633,161 — or 6.35% — to $10.61 million. The breakdown by member municipalities is:

• Gardiner: An increase of $220,391  — or 5.93% — to $3.94 million.

• Pittston: An increase of $165,892 — or 7.68% — to $2.33 million.

• Randolph: An increase of $63,544 — or 6.71% — to $1.01 million.

• West Gardiner: An increase of $83,332 — or 5.83% — to $3.33 million.

Superintendent Pat Hopkins and Disch recommended hosting a virtual budget hearing June 1 for member municipalities.

The Finance Committee did approve spending plans for school nutrition and the adult education program. The school nutrition budget will increase by $4,000 — or 0.37% — to $1.09 million, while the adult education plan will increase by $13,320 — or 4.44% — to $313,320. Both will be considered by the full MSAD 11 school board at its May 6 meeting.

Josh Farr, director of the adult education program, said increases to his budget are primarily for salary increases. But, he said, it also would allow the hiring of a math teacher to help fill gaps for students who need help in the subject due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the past, Farr said, the adult education program relied on high school math teachers, but more help is needed.

Adult education is open to current high school students who may need extra help, in addition to those more traditional students who may be pursuing their General Educational Development diploma, taking classes for enrichment or preparing to enter.

“We have a number of students and that is where their gap is, they are going to need more help,” he said. “I propose we have about 12 hours of time for a part-time math person in the upcoming year to do open instruction and open math lab.”

Farr said it would be a one-time deal, with the hope school will go back to full, regular instruction next year.

Adult education’s main revenue source — offering enrichment classes — has been lost in the past year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both Farr and Disch expect program revenue to rebound next year as instructors become vaccinated and trips can again be offered. In the past, the adult education program offered trips to Canada, Boston and other various places, but Farr said he started thinking of more local trips to breweries in the area to support revenue.

Farr also suggested offering drivers education courses as a revenue booster. He said other area programs have enough of a waitlist they wouldn’t be impacted by a loss of business, and the potential revenue would be about $4,000 per class.

The adult education program revenue is down about $50,000 this year, Disch said, adding that she would wait to make final decisions about its budget due to potential expenditures needed through the end of the year. She said the program’s budget uses about $8,000 in carryover funds in a typical year.

The school nutrition budget is difficult to predict, Disch said, until it is determined how students will be attending school.

“It’s basically a guess,” she said. “I’m guessing the number of free and reduced students we will have, revenue from the feds for school lunch, free and reduced revenue from the state and revenue from parents and students.

“I’m trying to guess how many students will eat, how much we will get reimbursed and how many will apply for free and reduced lunch,” she added.


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