SOMERVILLE — Sheepscot Valley communities will vote Tuesday on Regional School Unit 12’s proposed $24,477,840 budget, an increase of 2.9% — or a $689,549 — over last year.

Superintendent Howie Tuttle said the main reason for the increase in the proposed budget is the number of RSU 12 students not seeking re-enrollment. In 2022, there are projected to be 1,480 students in RSU 12, a drop of 49 students compared to 2021, according to the school website.

Fewer students mean less revenue from the state.

The town contribution is calculated after the revenues are deducted, by dividing the number of students to get the cost per student. The cost per student, which for RSU 12 is $15,395, is multiplied by the number of students per town. After subtracting the town’s state subsidy, the local share for each town in RSU 12 is formed.

“We lost over half a million in state subsidy,” Tuttle said at the April school board meeting. “That is devastating.”

Last year, RSU 12 received $10,857,239 in state subsidy and this year, RSU 12 is projected to receive $10,514,352, a difference of nearly 4%. RSU 12’s total revenue for next year is $11,434,734 after adding interest credit, $700,000 from coronavirus relief funds, miscellaneous funding and state agency client funding. Tuttle said the Maine Department of Education approved the district using $700,000 in coronavirus relief funds to maintain current staffing and current programming to “prevent cuts around the district” he said at the April school board meeting.

The total amount to be raised through town allocation for next year’s budget is $13,043,097 — a 3.91% difference from last year’s allocation of $12,551,339.

The town of Chelsea lost the most students, at 22, and Windsor dropped 19. Palermo lost nine and Whitefield gained eight. Alna and Westport Island each lost three students, while Somerville did not lose any students.

School officials said they don’t know if students who did not seek re-enrollment were motivated by the pandemic or because of other reasons.

RSU 12 schools were in-person, five days a week throughout the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of the current school year, there are still around 3% of students who chose to participate remotely, but remote learning will not be offered next year, according to the district’s website.

“Different towns see different increases,” Tuttle said at the same meeting. “The increase is for a variety of reasons, student count and subsidy changes, almost every town went down (in the number of students).”

• Alna’s town allocation for next year is $1,043,266 — a 4.5% increase, or a $45,298 difference from last year.

• Chelsea’s town allocation for next year is $2,601,544 — a 3% increase, or a $76,554 difference from last year.

• Palermo’s town allocation for next year is $1,977,991 — a 3.4% increase, or a $65,872 difference from last year.

• Somerville’s town allocation for next year is $679,735 — a 3.8% increase, or a $25,484 difference from last year.

• Westport Island’s town allocation for next year is $861,847 — a 2.5% increase, or a $21,238 difference from last year.

• Whitefield’s town allocation for next year is $2,449,924 — a 4.7% increase, or a $110,325 difference from last year.

• Windsor’s town allocation for next year is $3,428,787 — a 4.4% increase, or a $146,984 difference from last year.

Regular instruction is the highest increase, at 2.73%, or a difference of $329,864, bringing the regular instruction budget to $12,425,733.

Though the percentage is higher, the funding increase to the special education budget is just below the regular instruction budget, with an increase of $328,016 — or 7.57% — in comparison to last year’s budget, bringing the total of this year’s special education budget to $4,658,431.

Transportation went up by $11,282, mainly for bus repairs, Tuttle said, bringing the total to $1,428,646.

School administration increased by $7,924 in comparison to last year, for a total of $815,532 and system administration went up 4.26%, or $25,421, for a total of $622,916.


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