RSU 1 board sends $28M budget to voters

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BATH — The Regional School Unit 1 Board of Directors on Monday unanimously approved a $27.7 million budget for fiscal 2014.

The School Board also unanimously supported the hiring of Kari Babcock as principal at the Fisher Mitchell School in Bath. Babcock, who replaces Nancy Harriman, has been principal at Phippsburg Elementary School.

Next year’s spending plan, if approved by two public votes this month and in June, will increase 6.66 percent over the current year. With offsetting revenues subtracted, the amount to come from taxes would be $18.6 million, a 7.19 percent hike.

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: 6.3 percent in Bath, to $9.1 million; 24.1 percent in West Bath, to 2.7 million, and 16.5 percent in Woolwich, to $3.6 million.

Arrowsic could see a tax reduction of 2.6 percent, to about $481,000, and Phippsburg school taxes could decline 10.6 percent, to $2.7 million.

The School Board opted Monday to add two items into next year’s budget that it had previously discussed, according to RSU 1 Business Manager Ruth Moore: an assistant boys’ lacrosse coach for about $2,300, and about $15,000 to the system-wide staff development account.

After urging from several members of the public, the board also added two teaching positions late last month without increasing the bottom line: a certified health teacher at the middle school level, and a new teaching position at Woolwich Central School.

The latter addresses concerns about the size of the current fifth-grade class at Woolwich Central School, which has one teacher for 28 students.

The budget will go to 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 [email protected]. 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.