HALLOWELL — Voters in Hallowell-based Regional School Unit 2 are set to decide Wednesday on the district’s proposed $29.8 million operating budget for 2024-25.

RSU 2’s regional budget meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Monmouth Academy at 96 Academy Road.

Residents of Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Monmouth will be asked to vote on 17 warrant articles that make up the school district’s proposed budget, which represents a $1.7 million increase, or 6.34%, to current spending.

Superintendent Rick Amero said creating last year’s RSU 2 budget and navigating the town of Richmond’s departure from the district prepared him for this year’s difficult budget season. The proposed spending plan for 2024-25 marks the second budget year without the Richmond schools.

Several school districts have reported that this budget season is best described as the “perfect storm,” as they deal with inflation and the loss of COVID-19 pandemic funding. Many schools relied on the federal money to help cover the cost of certain positions and programs.

“Last year, there were a lot of challenges,” Amero said, “so we were navigating the COVID-era funding closely with Richmond’s separation.”

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Last budget season, the potential cut of a Japanese and an English literature teacher caused community members to advocate for the positions, and the RSU 2 board of directors added the positions back into the budget.

Included in budget cuts this year: a full-time science teacher, a part-time science teacher, a technology technician, a prekindergarten education technician and two elementary-level World Language teacher positions, totaling a reduction of $398,661. 

A few positions and programs were added to the proposed budget after the RSU 2 board heard testimony from teachers or school officials early in the budget process.

The board added a multilingual teacher to help with an influx of students who speak English as a second language; a gifted and talented teacher; a special education teacher at Hall-Dale Elementary School in Hallowell; a part-time prekindergarten teacher and a full-time social and emotional teacher at Dresden Elementary School; two districtwide technology positions; and a multitiered system of support teacher for the district.  

If the budget passes as proposed, it would translate to an average 7.69% increase in local contributions from the four RSU 2 communities.

Broken down by community:

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• Dresden would pay $2,392,480, an increase of $214,121, or 9.83%.

• Farmingdale would pay $3,676,631, an increase of $266,973, or 7.8%.

• Hallowell would pay $4,007,246, an increase of $267,535, or 7.15%.

• Monmouth would pay $6,642,561, an increase of $445,046, or 7.18%.

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