12 employees could lose jobs under RSU 1 budget

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BATH — The draft fiscal 2011 budget proposed by Regional School Unit 1 Superintendent William Shuttleworth could mean the elimination of a dozen employees.

The $24.35 million spending plan is nearly $634,000 less than this year’s budget, and includes a revenue loss of about $816,000.

“I think, overall, about 12 people will lose their jobs, unfortunately,” Shuttleworth said last week.

While the proposed budget is down 2.54 percent from the current year, it contains a 1.11 percent tax increase, or nearly $183,000, which brings the contribution to $16.63 million.

Through RSU 1’s cost-sharing formula, three of its communities would see decreases: Arrowsic, down 16.12 percent to nearly $407,000; Phippsburg, down 3.69 percent to $2.85 million, and West Bath, down 0.67 percent to $2.51 million.

Bath’s contribution would increase 0.88 percent to $7.86 million, and Woolwich would pay nearly $3 million, almost 12 percent more.

Shuttleworth said the increase in Woolwich is based on an increase in student enrollment due to the opening of a new school, and a rise in property value.

He said RSU 1 has cut $594,000 from the current budget since last November, and that it now faces an additional cut in state subsidy of more than $450,000 for fiscal 2011. Since more than 70 percent of the budget is comprised of staff and benefits, that is the hit hardest by reductions, the superintendent said.

In the draft budget, five teachers would be cut in kindergarten through eighth-grade foreign language, while one teacher will retire. Morse High School would lose two social studies positions and one math, English and literacy specialist position, as well as an educational technician. Bath Middle School would lose a special education teacher and two days of a librarian.

Despite the proposed cuts at Morse, Shuttleworth said he has been assured by Principal Peter Kahl that there will be no class of more than 24 students.

“We preserved what we think is most important in our elementary schools: reasonable class sizes, a focus on literacy, math and writing,” Shuttleworth said, “and we didn’t cut arts and (physical education) … because we know how important that is to kids.”

Elementary school foreign language classes will be shifting from classroom instruction to Web-based learning. When researching such language instruction products such as Rosetta Stone, Shuttleworth said, “we were fascinated by how well-organized it was, the monitoring of it, the assessment of students.”

A world language technology integration specialist will be hired to work with all schools on Web-based learning, he said.

Budget workshops are planned in Phippsburg on April 5, Bath on April 13 and Woolwich on April 15. The RSU 1 Board of Directors is expected to approve a final budget May 17, and a public meeting will be held at Bath Middle School June 1 for community members to vote.

The budget validation referendum, the final step in the budget process, will be June 8.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.