Letter: RSU 1 budget makes necessary investments

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The Regional School Unit 1 Board of Directors recently adopted a proposed $27 million budget to bring to voters in June. The budget, a 6.7 percent increase over the current year, is a responsible recommendation. It funds mandated items such as contractual salary and benefit increases, and special education costs – which account for more than 80 percent of the increase – as well as gaps in instructional programs.

The budget supports a health educator, educational techs to assist the increased number of special needs students, and a teacher for a new Grade 5 classroom to meet enrollment needs. An important piece of the budget would invest in the district’s pre-kindergarten program, expanding the number of slots and opening a classroom at the Phippsburg Elementary School. The budget also includes funding for a school resource officer, professional development for teachers, and a much-needed maintenance position.

Board members were very sensitive to the bottom line and anticipated criticism. What has been advanced, however, are items important to core educational objectives, investments that we need to make to maintain a tradition of educational achievement. Overcrowding, continued deferral of maintenance, children coming to school unprepared to learn because of health and wellness issues, and lack of early learning opportunities are the challenges facing RSU 1. These are among the challenges this budget addresses.

The board adopted only those recommendations that would directly enhance the quality of education. The board acknowledges a departure from recent budgets that were relatively flat, but made deep cuts in instructional programs and put off critical infrastructure needs. These are the gaps that we now need to address and this proposal does that.

Stephen August, vice chairman
RSU 1 Board of Directors