RICHMOND — The Richmond school board voted 4-1 in favor of cutting the proposed $8.2 million budget by $27,000.

Bob Webster Photo courtesy of Bob Webster

Cutting that amount of money will bring the school budget from a 4.46% increase down to just below a 4% increase. Based on board discussion, it does not seem likely positions will be at the helm of the cuts but rather other areas of the budget will be affected.

The cuts are at the hands of interim Superintendent Bob Webster, who will present the final draft of the budget to the board for a vote during the annual Richmond School Department budget meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Richmond High School gym. The budget referendum is June 11.

Nicole Tuttle

Nicole Tuttle was the only board member to vote against the budget and said she did not want to see additional positions cut.

“I feel like last year, when doing the budget process, at the town meeting people were pretty against having cuts to any teachers or staff, or anything,” she said. 

This July marks the first official fiscal year of the Richmond School Department following the town’s departure from Regional School Unit 2. Last year, the board approved at $7.9 million budget that hovered around a $1 million increase, or 24% from what Richmond paid in the local contribution to RSU 2. 

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The proposed budget has an increase of $300,000 over the current year’s budget and most of the increases are contractual salary increases to teacher positions, which make up 80% of the budget. The budget is expected to have a proposed increase to taxpayers of around $130,000.

The board originally proposed cutting $50,000 out of the budget and looked to eliminate one of the three kindergarten teachers, but decided against it.

Marcia Buker Elementary School Principal Mary Paine vouched for the position and said if eliminated, it would bring class sizes at the kindergarten level from eight students per class to 12, which at this time, would be a lot of students with behavior issues in one class.

Amanda McDaniel

“It’s not the days where kids could sit at desks and behave,” she said. “The behavior problems are extreme, and they require a lot more teachers getting next to students while kids are learning.” 

Positions added into the budget are a school nurse, a van driver for the special education department and a guidance counselor, and the district is currently advertising for an additional part-time business manager.

Board Chair Amanda McDaniel said the increase is not nearly as bad as the surrounding town’s school budgets. 

Winthrop is facing a 6% increase and Readfield-based Regional School Unit 38 settled on a 5% increase with both school districts having to cut several positions in what has become one of the more difficult budget seasons school officials have seen. 

Webster admitted that he was off in his calculations of the amount of the current year’s budget the district is expected to carry-forward. He expected the amount to be around $370,000, but it comes in around $240,00. He had forgotten to calculate in salaries over the summer before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

The carry-forward is a regular part of a school budget and is often used as additional revenue in the upcoming fiscal year.

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