Bath-area RSU proposes 12% budget increase, 2% tax hike

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BATH — Next year’s Regional School Unit 1 budget could rise nearly 12 percent, to $33.7 million, according to a draft presented at Monday’s Board of Directors meeting.

Most of the $3.6 million increase is due to $3.4 million in debt service toward construction of a new Morse High School, a hike of $2.2 million (187 percent).

Without that expense, the budget would be $31.4 million, an increase of $1.3 million (4.42 percent).

Offsetting expenditures is $13.1 million in state subsidy, which includes $2.3 million toward debt service. With all revenues subtracted, the remaining $18.6 million is to be assessed to RSU 1’s four-member communities, a 2 percent hike.

Of that amount, Bath would be taxed $10.7 million (up 2.54 percent), Arrowsic $493,000 (down 10.3 percent), Phippsburg nearly $3 million (down 0.03 percent), and Woolwich $4.4 million (up 3.7 percent).

The estimated school budget impact on a $100,000 home would be a $15.64 increase in Bath and $25.71 hike in Woolwich, and decreases of $69.26 in Arrowsic and 77 cents in Phippsburg, according to Finance Director Debra Clark.

Other approximate budget increases include literacy materials for the reading curriculum of grades kindergarten to five ($160,000), two additional days a week for an English as a Second Language teacher ($41,000), one day per week of an outdoor classroom at Phippsburg Elementary School ($15,000), enhancement of Morse’s music program ($15,000), two new educational technicians ($45,000 each), and additional substitute teacher funds ($20,000).

Public forums on the spending plan will be held Monday, April 1, and Monday, April 22. Both will be held at Bath Middle School at 6 p.m.

The School Board is due May 6 to adopt the budget, which then goes to two votes by RSU 1 residents: a May 28 district budget meeting, and a June 11 budget validation referendum.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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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.