Proposed RSU 1 budget adds 2 teaching positions

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BATH — Two teaching positions supported by several Regional School Unit 1 residents are being included in the proposed school budget without increasing the bottom line, RSU 1 Business Manager Ruth Moore said this week.

The proposed spending plan of $27.7 million for fiscal 2014 could increase 6.6 percent from this year. After offsetting revenues are subtracted, the remaining $18.56 million, an increase of 7.09 percent, would have to be raised through taxes.

Under a new cost-sharing formula that will assess the RSU 1 communities on a per-pupil basis, Bath, West Bath and Woolwich could see significant school tax increases: 6.2 percent in Bath, to $9.1 million; 24 percent in West Bath, to 2.7 million, and 16.4 percent in Woolwich, to $3.6 million.

Arrowsic could see a tax reduction of 2.7 percent, to about $480,000, and Phippsburg school taxes could decline 10.6 percent, to $2.7 million.

Despite the increases, several people at a public budget hearing at Woolwich Central School last month also advocated for adding a certified health teacher at the middle school level. They expressed concerns about issues students face – such as substance abuse, depression and sexual activity – and their desire for adolescents to be educated to make better decisions.

Moore said Tuesday that the health position would be in the budget. Superintendent Patrick Moore was still figuring out the details to make it happen, but he had informed the School Board it would be included, with no addition to the budget, she noted.

Parents also expressed concern about the size of the current fifth-grade class at Woolwich Central School, which has one teacher for 28 students. They asked that a new teaching position be created for next year.

That position is to be added to the budget as well, also at no extra cost. Moore explained that low incoming enrollment in the kindergarten class at Phippsburg Elementary School has allowed a teaching position to be shifted from that school – creating a combined kindergarten-first-grade class there – and added at Woolwich.

The budget will go to two public votes: a district budget meeting on May 28, and a budget validation referendum on June 4.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.