Letter: SAD 51 spending, by the numbers

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After the School Administrative District 51 Finance Committee recommended a 3 percent increase in the school budget for the 2011-2012 year, some historical facts about the SAD 51 budget may be helpful to establish a context for this recommendation, the budget discussion, and the budget vote.

For fiscal 1997, the budget was $11.56 million, according to the Maine Department of Labor website. Using the 3 percent recommendation, the proposed budget for SAD 51 for fiscal 2012 would be $28.89 million – an increase of 150 percent, or 10 percent per year, for 15 years.

SAD 51 enrollment peaked in October 2001 at 2,500 students. Student population is projected to drop another 45 students next year to under 2,100 students, a drop of 17 percent from the peak enrollment. This substantial decline in enrollment is predicted to continue.

At the peak of enrollment, the 2001-2002 budget was $18.8 million. The 3 percent recommendation for the proposed budget represents an increase of 54 percent over the 10 years for an annual average increase of 5.4 percent. During this 10-year period, student enrollment will have declined 17 percent.

A 3 percent increase in next year’s budget – more than $841,000 – will require a 4.25 percent increase in the Cumberland mil rate, from $15.30 to $15 .95 per $1,000 of valuation. I do not know the percentage increase for North Yarmouth.

John Lambert