READFIELD — The Regional School Unit 38 budget has increased by more than 5%, but some towns in the district will be asked to pay just over 7% more than they did for the current school year.

The board of directors unanimously approved a $20,161,272 budget for the 2022-23 school year at its meeting last week, an increase of $1,072,939, or 5.6%, over last year.

Superintendent Jay Charette said the board’s goal during the budget process was to “balance the needs of all members in the RSU 38 community,” set initiatives for the board that included being transparent with the budget process, and keep the budgeted amount to under a 2% increase.

Though the board did not meet its goal of keeping the budget increase below 2%, its members trimmed the increase in spending by nearly half between the first draft budget and the one approved last week. The draft started with an increase of more than 10%.

In May, residents of Manchester, Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne, which make up the district, can still vote to approve or reject the school district’s 20 warrant articles for the budget.

The towns’ contributions total $13,182,659 — an increase of 6.2% from last year’s local contribution of $12,413,272. Taxpayers in Readfield and Wayne will see the largest jump because property valuations have increased the most in those towns.

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Split between the four towns, the breakdown of the local contribution is:

• Manchester would pay $4,059,492 — an increase of 5.3% or a difference of $203,910 from last year.

• Mount Vernon would pay $3,054,506 — an increase of 5.3% or a difference of $154,253 from last year.

• Readfield would pay $3,713,505 — an increase of 7.2% or a difference of $250,270 from last year.

• Wayne would pay $2,355,237 — an increase of 7.3% or a difference of $161,035 from last year.

The board and Charette were clear on what, besides insurance increases and inflation, drove the budget higher.

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The largest increase to last year’s budget was salary-related increases, accounting for over $500,000 of the budget. In this year’s budget, only a couple of positions were added, including a facility maintenance position which, over time, would save money because the person hired would potentially be able to perform tasks the district currently outsources.

Facilities and maintenance will cost the district $2,866,128 and includes utilities, contracted services, salaries and projects.

Mandy Fitzgerald, the district’s finance director, said the administration and directors worked hard to minimize the budget as much as possible, but that aspects of the budget were beyond their control.

“We were told with our liability insurance to budget around 20-23%, again, the insurance is going up, but one of the reasons why is if, say, there is damage to the roof and you need to have work done, or redone, the cost of materials have gone up so much,” she said in an interview.

There is an additional social worker position budgeted for $75,000, an elementary guidance position funded by the third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds and two nurse positions funded by the second round of funding from the federal program.

Regular instruction will cost the district $8,395,203 and includes teaching staff salaries and all expenses related to running the classrooms. The district will pay for new science textbooks, costing $15,000, and new Spanish textbooks for $3,215.

For the transportation section of the budget, the district will pay $1,155,638, which includes funding for a new bus. Originally, RSU 38 planned to buy two buses, but has since eliminated the second one to save money. There is an additional 20-hour position to help Transportation Director Kelly Thompson as a “second-in-command.”

Residents can vote on the budget May 18 at Maranacook Community Middle School at 7 p.m.

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