RSU 1 budget headed to 1st of 2 public votes

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BATH — Next year’s Regional School Unit 1 budget goes to the first of two district-wide votes Tuesday, May 28.

The $27.7 million spending plan, unanimously approved by the RSU 1 Board of Directors on May 6, will increase 6.66 percent over the current year if approved both times.

With offsetting revenues subtracted, the amount to come from taxes would be $18.6 million, a 7.19 percent hike.

Through a new cost-sharing formula that assesses 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 benefit from 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 recently opted to add two items to next year’s budget that it had previously discussed: an assistant boys’ lacrosse coach for about $2,300, and about $15,000 to the system-wide staff development account.

As urged by several members of the public, the board has 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 May 28 district budget meeting will be held at Bath Middle School at 6 p.m. The spending plan then goes to a budget validation referendum on June 4 at polling places in the five RSU 1 communities.

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.