RSU 1 meeting OKs $25M budget for voter referendum
BATH — With voters asking only a few questions along the way, the Regional School Unit 1 fiscal 2010 budget coasted through Tuesday's district budget meeting, sending the $25 million plan to a June 9 budget validation referendum.
The RSU budget shows an approximately 1 percent decline from current spending. But the amount to be raised in taxes, $16.4 million, is rising 0.74 percent.
The budget requires $1.6 million in additional local funds, exceeding the state's Essential Programs and Services fund allocation model by about $966,000. The School Board said the EPS model does not adequately address all the unit's educational programs. While voters approved all the other articles by a show of hands, this article had to be voted on by written ballot, a process required by the state.
Only 70 people from Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich voted on that item, and it passed by 64-6.
Reflecting after the meeting on the low turnout, Superintendent of Schools William Shuttleworth said, "I think it represents that when people saw the budget, they saw that it had virtually no increase, and that during these times they felt pretty confident that we were on the right page."
Among the budget items is $2.3 million for student and staff support, an increase from the $2 million in the current budget. Of that, $178,000 is dedicated toward the state-based initiative to supply laptop computers to every student at Morse High School.
"If you have spent half a day with a 15-year-old, you know their life today is completely driven by technology," Shuttleworth said, calling it a "glitch" in the system that students have had laptops for two years at the middle school, but then lose them once they reach high school.
The purchase includes software more valuable than the laptops themselves, he said.
"We're proud to do this," Shuttleworth said. "We know that this was a one-time deal, that if we didn't opt in at this time, it would have been until 2013 until another opportunity like this would have come along. And we didn't want this generation of high school students ... missing out on this opportunity."
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or email@example.com.