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CUMBERLAND — A draft fiscal year 2020 budget for School Administrative District 51 includes no tax increase for property owners in Cumberland and North Yarmouth.
The SAD 51 Board of Directors on Monday also unanimously approved hiring Chris Hoffman as the permanent principal at Greely High School, and launching a pre-kindergarten program.
Superintendent Jeff Porter credited the flat tax largely to the district receiving $11.8 million in state aid to education – a $961,000 increase over this year, and the most SAD 51 has received since fiscal year 2017. The subsidy still depends on legislative approval.
The total proposed budget is $38.4 million, an increase of $1.1 million, or nearly 3 percent, over current spending. Last year’s hike was 3.8 percent.
Projected district revenues, including state subsidy, total $12 million, an increase of 6.8 percent.
When those revenues are subtracted from the total budget, $26.3 million remains to be assessed to the two towns. Cumberland’s share would be nearly $19 million, while North Yarmouth’s would be $7.4 million.
The budget increase includes $1.1 million in costs just to open the school doors, with no other changes, Porter said. Those include about $651,000 in staff salaries, $489,000 in staff benefits (a number subject to change, since insurance rates have not been finalized), and nearly $101,000 from debt service for the new Greely Center for the Arts.
Nearly $142,000 has been subtracted due to projected savings from upcoming staff retirements.
Proposed additions to the spending plan, totaling $478,000, include $265,500 for starting the pre-kindergarten program this fall. Increasing enrollment has added full-time kindergarten and fifth-grade teachers (each $66,000), and a half-time elementary school counselor ($33,000).
Total budget reductions of $648,000 include $100,000 for a special education teacher (including benefits) due to a decreased caseload; $84,000 in supplies, books and equipment; and $80,000 for special education out-of-district expenses, as those services are being offered in-house.
The School Board will hold a budget workshop in the Greely High School library from 6-9 p.m. Monday, April 1. A hearing on the spending plan will be held April 22, followed by board adoption of the document May 6.
The budget then goes to two public votes: a district budget meeting May 16, and a budget validation referendum June 11.
Hoffman, who has taught social studies and English at Greely, replaces Dan McKeone as principal. McKeone announced his departure last April, and SAD 51 advertised the position through late May, with the hope of having a new principal start Aug. 1.
But that schedule didn’t provide enough time to find a suitable replacement, according to Porter. SAD 51 conducted two searches last June, but no optimal candidate was found, leading the board to tap Hoffman – a Greely employee since 2009 – as interim principal.
A third search began last month, advertising first internally; a 16-member committee of stakeholders interviewed Hoffman and recommended hiring him.
Porter said in a letter to the Greely community March 8 that he is confident Hoffman and Assistant Principal Don Gray “will continue to lead Greely High School in a positive, inclusive and vibrant direction as has been clearly evident over the last eight months.”
After being discussed by the School Board for about four years and approved in 2017, the pre-kindergarten program will open at the Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School with 32 students.
Half the group will be regular instruction students, and the other half will be special needs who are now served by the state’s Child Development Services program, Porter said. Sixteen students will attend in the morning, and the rest in the afternoon.
SAD 51 Superintendent Jeff Porter presented the district’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 at Greely High School on Monday.