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RSU 1 budget goes to Bath meeting, June 9 vote

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RSU 1 budget goes to Bath meeting, June 9 vote

BATH — Voters in Regional School Unit 1 will meet at Bath Middle School on Tuesday, June 2, for the first of a two-step process required to approve the school district's fiscal 2010 budget.

Voters are being asked to arrive early to register for the Town Meeting-style gathering. Doors open at the 6 Old Brunswick Road school at 5:15 p.m., and the meeting begins at 6 p.m. The results of the meeting will go to referendum on Tuesday, June 9, for a ballot vote.

The $25 million budget reflects a nearly 1 percent decrease over the current year, as well as a 0.74 percent increase in taxes. Here's how the $16.4 million local contribution spreads across RSU 1's five communities:

  • Bath, $7.8 million, a 1.6 percent decrease.
  • Arrowsic, $485,000, a 13.6 percent increase.
  • Phippsburg, nearly $3 million, a 0.9 percent increase.
  • West Bath, $2.5 million, a 3 percent increase.
  • Woolwich, $2.7 million, a 3.4 percent increase.

Although next year's budget reflects an overall spending decrease, taxes would rise slightly due to less money from the state and a reduction in carryover funds.

The district is receiving $7.7 million from the state for fiscal 2010, a decrease of about $185,000 from the current year.

RSU 1 used nearly $542,000 in carryover for fiscal 2009, and has planned $300,000 for next year. The carryover could have been $872,000, but the RSU communities were allowed to keep an additional $572,000 to offset local taxes in the district's first year.

The district has made cuts in programs that have been underutilized, including the business program at Bath Regional Vocational Center. It also has not filled some positions opened by retirements. Some of next year's expenses have been offset in part from federal stimulus money for special education and Title 1, and RSU 1 will be paying $1.85 per gallon of oil next year, versus $3.05 this year.

"Our consolidated district, now in its first year of operation, is stronger for having come together," School Board Chairman Charles Durfee said in a letter included with the meeting's budget booklet. "We have started aligning our curriculum ... and have addressed literacy as a common goal in all schools. Our educational offerings have increased as evidenced by adding another foreign language and expanding quality programming to gifted and talented children. We also see that the funding model cushions shifts in student enrollment and large hikes in property valuation.

"In just one year," Durfee added, "there has been a real sense of coming together as one larger, but stronger educational community."

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