RSU 1 budget passes 1st test with voters in Bath, surrounding communities

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BATH — A $26 million fiscal 2013 budget for Regional School Unit 1 goes to a final vote June 12, after receiving initial public approval Tuesday.

A budget meeting at Bath Middle School drew more than 140 voters from the five RSU 1 communities – Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich.

If approved on Election Day, the budget will take effect July 1.

Taxes in Bath would increase by 5.38 percent, or about $438,000, to $8.6 million. Arrowsic’s assessment would climb nearly 16 percent to $494,000. Phippsburg would increase 9.54 percent to nearly $3 million, and Woolwich’s tax would grow 1.77 percent to $3.1 million.

West Bath’s assessment would 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.

In a letter available to residents at Tuesday’s meeting, RSU 1 Chairman Tim Harkins said 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 explained.

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.

Proposed amendments – to restore the music position, $2,000 in supplies at the Dike-Newell and Fisher-Mitchell schools, and part or all of the transportation cuts – failed when put to voters.

The polls will be open for Bath voters at Bath Middle School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 12.

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.