Waterville Public Schools officials say the proposed budget for the junior high school is $3.58 million, an increase of $83,787. While most of that is salaries and benefits, more than $400,000 would be allocated for maintenance and general school expenses. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The Board of Education on Monday heard budget proposals for Waterville Junior High School, Albert S. Hall School and other departments.

The proposed budget for the junior high school is $3.58 million, an increase of $83,787. About $3.15 million of the proposed budget, or 88%, is for salaries and benefits; $244,316, or 7%, is for maintenance; and $192,379, or 5%, is for general school expenses.

Principal Don Roux said enrollment at the junior high school has decreased from 411 to 332 over the past 15 years.

Waterville Public Schools Superintendent Peter Hallen said while 56% of the students at the junior high school and 66% at the Hall School qualify for free or reduced lunch, officials know the need is greater in the district.

Maine now offers free lunches to students as part of a federal program, Hallen said, and the only downside to that is it removes the motivation for families to fill out paperwork to determine if they qualify.

Sarah St. Pierre, the principal at the Hall School, said 92% of the school’s budget increase is to cover salaries and benefits.

Mike Crommett, the facilities director for Waterville Public Schools, said $50,000 is to be spent on sprinkler and backflow prevention work at the Hall School, which is required by the Kennebec Water District.

Compared to other schools, the cost of the work is greater at the Hall School because it is so old, Crommett said.

The board is scheduled to hold a special school budget session March 25 and after school officials get numbers from the state the board is expected to take a first vote on the proposal. The City Council would then take a vote on the municipal and school budgets. After the council takes its final vote, the board then takes a second vote to confirm the school budget.

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