Today’s the day. Remember to go to your polling places to cast your vote.
On July 11, the RSU 56 School Board voted to submit a budget of $12,959,164 to the voters of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru. This revised budget is reduced from the original budget of $13,215,394 that was not passed on the June referendum vote- representing cost savings of $256,230.
With the passing of the state budget, RSU 56 received confirmation on the state payments for this upcoming school year. The amount is above the preliminary figures that were originally received.
The new proposed budget, figuring in the accurate state contribution, represents an increase of 11.916% over the previous year.
RSU 56 has consulted with the Town Offices in each of the four communities, and the estimate impact on taxes for a $100,000 property in each town are listed below:
We have prepared a mailing that will go out to all homes in the four towns over the next week, and this has been sent to the printer. Please keep an eye out for this mailing in the next week or so.
Since the referendum vote in June, the Board, Administrators and staff have worked diligently to review the budget and identify cost saving measures. The further cuts that have been proposed in the revised budget are outlined below:
– Curriculum Development: $14,000 – these responsibilities will be addressed by Superintendent
– Technology Upgrade Difference: $7,590 – difference between what was originally budgeted and actual cost
– Central Office staffing positions: Cut the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent and ½ time Accounts Payable position. Salary and benefits total savings of $85,500.
– Oil for Central Office: $10,000 – close this building prior to cold weather
– Overtime Reduction: $30,000 – primarily from Buildings, Grounds, Maintenance lines
– School Furniture: $3,000
– DHS/DMS Repairs to Equipment & Supplies: $20,804
– Reduction in Force Adjustment: $18,000
– Reduction in Administrator Salary Lines: $6,336- Building Administrators pay freeze
– One teaching position at DHS: $50,000
– Technology licensing moved to state grant monies: $6,000
– Reduction in Activity Bus Run: $5,000- consolidation of activity bus runs to allow to continue this service, which is required in order to maintain afterschool grant-funded programming, but to improve efficiency.
The next steps in the school budget process are detailed below:
– July 26th: Public Informational Hearing regarding school budget at DHS at 6:30 PM
– July 27th: Budget Validation Meeting at DHS at 6:30 PM
– August 8th: Referendum vote in RSU 56 communities- check with local town office to confirm polling locations and times.
We encourage everyone to attend the informational hearing and validation meeting to learn more about the budget, ask questions and provide input. In addition to the dates above, the School Board will be meeting at DHS on both July 18th and July 25th at 6:30PM.
The Board did not arrive at the revised budget figure lightly. They tasked administrators to bring forward budget proposals of $13M, $12.75M and $12.5M for review. After thoughtful deliberation and consideration, it was determined that the deep cuts that would be necessary to further reduce the budget figure would be too devastating to the children and district. Some of those cuts that were considered and ultimately not pursued included cutting all co-curricular and extra-curricular programs ($199,000 savings), cuts to DES teaching staff ($50,000 per position) that would increase class sizes above 25 pupils, and not providing laptops to the students and staff at DHS ($81,289 savings).
RSU 56 will continue to review options to save money and make the district as efficient as possible. We have made the decision to close the old elementary school, which had been serving as the Central Office. There are options to consider with streamlining resources to move towards a two school district, serving Pre-K to Grade 6 and Grades 7-12. There is the option of collaborating in many ways with neighboring districts. This is an area that will be studied and pursued diligently, and will be incentivized by the state DOE in the next few years. Given the time constraints of the transition process this year, it was difficult to establish these collaborations and partnerships, but this is a priority moving forward.
It is understood that community members voted for the creation of a separated district for different reasons, and there is concern about the financial impact that the decision has created. It is not possible to change course for the 2017-18 school year. Today we are RSU 56 and our task is to provide the highest quality educational opportunities possible for our students and to deliver these programs in an efficient manner. We are not able to look back and need to move forward to establish consistency in the District, to take an intentional look at our curriculum and instruction, and to start working on options that can bring positive financial and academic change to our schools. We appreciate the communities’ consideration of the proposed budget.
There will be a public board meting at Dirigo High School in the SCC on Monday, June 19, 2017 at 6:30pm to discuss the budget vote and the timeline to move forward. We encourage the public to attend and help the board decide on the direction and future of the budget and district. The majority of the agenda on Monday will be a budget workshop.