ANSON — Voters in Regional School Unit 74 will soon be asked to decide on the proposed $10.4 million budget for the 2021-2022 school year, a nearly $51,000 hike from the previous year.

The district held a special meeting Thursday at Carrabec High School to discuss the items that make up the budget and what each town in the district — which serves Anson, Embden, New Portland, North Anson and Solon — are responsible for paying. The final vote on the budget will be held Tuesday, June 8.

In a letter to the community dated May 15, Superintendent Mike Tracy discusses changes, including the $50,686 increase over the previous academic year as well as positions that have been eliminated.

Mike Tracy, superintendent in Regional School Unit 74. Morning Sentinel file photo

“Since last year, we have cut 2 teaching positions, decreased capital expenses slightly and seen a reduction in special education costs,” Tracy wrote. “Overall, due to COVID-19 and Federal Grant funding, these one-time savings are being passed on to the local taxpayers by increasing the district’s revenue line in the form of balance forward.”

In short, he said that the tax burden will be reduced by increasing the balance-forward slightly.

Big ticket items in the $10,423,207 budget include $3.87 million for regular instruction; $1.6 million for special education; $1.7 million for facilities maintenance; and $712,706 for transportation.

“We have worked to propose a responsible budget that meets the basic needs of our students,” Tracy said. “The School Board has approved a proposed budget, with a districtwide local decrease of $70,680 for all of RSU 74.”

About 20 residents showed up to the meeting Thursday night, along with the Board of Directors and clerks from each town office. Community members questioned some items on the budget, particularly when it came to transportation. Tracy said that the proposal for $712,706 in transportation reflects a “normal” bus schedule, opposed to the routes that have been used during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have anticipated a full return, this budget reflects a full return with bus routes going back to how they were,” Tracy explained.

Tracy said last month that schools in the district — comprising Garret Schenck School in Anson, Solon Elementary, and Carrabec Community School and Carrabec High School, both in North Anson — will be returning to full-time, in-person learning in the fall and dropping remote and hybrid learning altogether.

The superintendent previously told the board that he is looking to resume a daily, Monday through Friday schedule and that “RSU 74 is going back to school.” He added that he’s been working with administrators to come up with two plans for reopening.

The backup plan, which would be implemented if COVID-19 mandates are not adjusted, would call for the creation of five additional classrooms across the schools as well as five additional teachers. Administrators have located spaces that exist within the schools currently and will utilize CARES Act 2 funding to convert the spaces into classrooms.

Tracy said on Friday that it appears “Plan A” will be the plan, “as the physical distancing requirements have become a recommendation,” and not a requirement.

As a result of going back full-time, no students or staff will be displaced as they may have been during the pandemic school structure and schedules.

“I remain confident that we can provide a solid education program in RSU 74 with this proposed budget,” Tracy said. “I will do my best to work with our School Board, administrators and staff to provide the very best program with the resources that we have.”


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