CUMBERLAND — With health insurance costs coming in lower than initially budgeted, School Administrative District 51 is planning to use the savings to hire a specialist for students with unique learning needs.
The Cumberland-North Yarmouth district had expected an estimated 9 percent increase in health insurance costs, but has learned the hike will be a little less than 5 percent, Superintendent Jeff Porter said April 15.
The savings would more than cover the addition to the fiscal 2016 budget of a so-called pathways specialist, who would work with selected students in grades seven through 12.
The position, at a projected cost of $75,000 including benefits, would “expand pathways for students to demonstrate proficiency in state standards,” Porter said.
The position had been included in $1.1 million of “unmet needs” for the 2015-2016 school year, presented by SAD 51’s District Leadership Team. A $642,000 drop in state funding caused proposed spending for those needs to be reduced to nearly $316,000.
Next year’s proposed $33.8 million budget reflects an increase of 3.6 percent over current spending. With school, town and county assessments combined, Cumberland would see a tax increase of $75 for each $100,000 in property valuation, or $262.50 on a $350,000 home. The combined impact in North Yarmouth would cause a $53 increase for every $100,000, for an impact of $185.50 on a $350,000 home.
Gov. Paul LePage’s state budget proposal includes an approximately $642,000 reduction in state funding for the district, stemming from three factors: $232,000 from retirement of debt for the Mabel I. Wilson School, a $120,000 reduction in bus subsidy, and $290,000 from declining enrollment and a state mil rate shift.
The School Board will decide whether to approve the budget Monday, April 27, in a 7 p.m. meeting at Greely High School. The spending plan will then undergo two votes by the towns: at a town meeting-style gathering in the Greely High School gym on May 14, and a budget validation referendum June 9.