RSU 1 budget gets 1st approval in Bath meeting

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BATH — In the course of about 50 minutes Tuesday, 50 registered voters approved a $28.3 million budget for next year in Regional School Unit 1.

The district budget meeting, held at Bath Middle School, elicited few comments from the public. It will be followed by a budget validation referendum on the spending plan for Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, and Woolwich schools on Tuesday, June 14.

The largest expense – $10.9 million for regular instruction, up more than $300,000 from current spending – funds salaries and benefits for regular education teachers and support staff, along with classroom supplies, books, equipment and repairs.

The budget includes a $45,000 half-time Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math, or STEAM, teacher at Morse High School, as well as a middle school foreign language teacher and district-wide technology integration position, both averaging about $70,000 each including benefits. A day of music at Morse was added, too.

Before endorsing the budget a month ago, the RSU 1 Board of Directors added about $7,000 for a lacrosse program at Bath Middle School, about $10,000 for an additional day of nurses at Phippsburg Elementary School, and about $3,000 to add an after-school robotics program at Bath Middle and Woolwich Central schools.

Will final budget approval this month, district-wide taxes would to increase 3.44 percent. The fiscal 2017 spending plan is rising 3.39 percent – adding nearly $928,000 – to $28.3 million.

Offsetting revenues include $9.4 million in state subsidy, up about $53,000.

Salaries, comprising nearly 68 percent of the budget, are $19.2 million, a 3.38 percent hike.

The $17.1 million in taxes assessed to the four member communities reflect an increase of about $568,000, or 3.44 percent. Bath’s share would be $9.7 million, up 3.45 percent; Arrowsic’s, nearly $508,000, a 12.26 percent hike; Phippsburg’s, $3 million, up about 1.71 percent, and Woolwich’s, $3.9 million, a 3.71 percent increase.

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

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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.