TOPSHAM — Declining enrollment and increased valuation in School Administrative District 75 towns are factors that could lead to a reduction in state education funding for fiscal 2010, Superintendent Mike Wilhelm said last week.
The district’s student population dropped from 2,905 last April to 2,814 in October. Valuation in SAD 75 valuation rose from $2.95 billion in 2007 to $3.28 billion in 2008, Wilhelm said.
Meanwhile, SAD 75 faces a continued drop in general purpose aid to education funding. The district lost $293,000 for the rest of its fiscal 2009 budget when the state announced a general purpose aid cut of $27 million late last year. Gov. John Baldacci has proposed continuing that $27 million reduction in the next budget cycle.
The mil rate contribution of each town – a component, with valuation, in calculating how much each town must contribute to education – could also increase from 6.55 to 6.89, thereby increasing each town’s contribution.
Increased property valuation, increased mil rate contribution, the reduction in state general purpose aid and decreased enrollment all add up to a major shift from state education funding to an increase in local contribution, the superintendent said.
Wilhelm pointed out that general fund revenue sources available to SAD 75 include the fund balance, which has been $600,000 for fiscal 2009. There have also been state agency client reimbursements of $60,000 and tuition students from outside the district, which total $40,000. Federal impact aid has been $50,000 for fiscal 2009, an amount that could be dropped or cut completely in fiscal 2010 as Brunswick Naval Air Station nears its 2011 closure date and housing at the Topsham Navy Annex is vacated.
SAD 75 has several existing programs that are grant-funded from private ($15,000), state ($94,000) and federal ($1.4 million) sources.
Due to changes in the market, SAD 75 will enjoy energy cost savings, such as nearly $52,000 for No. 2 heating oil, almost $56,000 for natural gas and just shy of $100,000 for diesel fuel.
The district’s Finance Committee is working to have a first draft of the fiscal 2010 budget ready for its Monday, March 23 meeting in the superintendent’s conference room at the SAD 75 district office.
Public budget forums will follow in Harpswell on April 6, Bowdoinham April 8 and Topsham April 13. Formal budget approval will take place during the regular SAD 75 board meeting on April 30, while a public budget forum will take place May 28 and the district budget meeting on May 30. The budget validation referendum will be held on June 9.