Regional School Unit 1 voters ratify $26M budget; Bath's DeChant wins primary in House District 62

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BATH — The fiscal 2013 budget proposed for Regional School Unit 1 passed by a 2-1 margin Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Jennifer DeChant of Middle Street defeated Paul O. Johnson of Washington Street, 319-244, in the Democratic primary in House District 62.

DeChant will face Republican City Councilor Kyle Rogers in the November general election. The winner will replace Rep. Michael H. Clarke, D-Bath, who chose not to seek re-election.

The $26 million school spending plan was approved 1,438 to 697, according to preliminary results. All five municipalities in the RSU backed the budget: 729-335 in Bath, 68-24 in Arrowsic, 187-119 in Phippsburg ,171-83 in West Bath, and 283-136 in Woolwich.

Superintendent Patrick Manuel said Wednesday that he was “thankful and happy” with the results, and with people having come out to vote.

The spending plan received initial support at a June 5 budget meeting at Bath Middle School.

As a result of the school budget, taxes in Bath are expected to increase 5.38 percent, or about $438,000, to $8.6 million. Arrowsic’s assessment will climb nearly 16 percent to $494,000; Phippsburg’s should increase 9.54 percent to nearly $3 million, and Woolwich’s tax should grow 1.77 percent to $3.1 million.

West Bath’s assessment should decrease nearly 17 percent, to $2.2 million.

Significant expenditures in next year’s budget include $10.1 million for regular instruction, $3.7 million for special education, $1.2 million for career and technical education, $2.2 million for student and staff support, $1.5 million for school administration, $1 million for transportation, $3.2 million for facilities maintenance and $1.9 million for debt service.

RSU 1 Chairman Tim Harkins has noted that the district has lost $480,000 in federal stimulus money. While it is receiving a state subsidy increase of almost $600,000, RSU 1 is experiencing a nearly $500,000 hike in operating expenses for things like staff salaries, fuel and heating oil, Harkins has said.

Consequential reductions include the elimination of a foreign language position and reduction of Rosetta Stone language software licenses at Bath Middle and Woolwich Central schools ($66,400); a social studies position cut at Morse High School (nearly $80,000); the elimination of a composite program and supplies at the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center ($83,000); the reduction of a part-time music position at the Dike-Newell School in Bath (about $19,000), and a $45,000 cut in transportation.

The transportation reduction eliminates transportation for a pre-kindergarten program, as well as a school choice option primarily for elementary students.

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.