RSU 1 budget ready for School Board vote

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BATH — A $30.1 million Regional School Unit 1 budget, which elicited no comment from the public or Board of Directors during a hearing April 30, goes to a board vote Monday, May 7.

From there, next year’s spending plan will have two votes by RSU 1 residents: a district budget meeting May 29, and a budget validation referendum June 12.

The School Board on Monday also heard an update on the new Morse High School construction project and supported a site work budget that goes before the state for approval next week.

The fiscal year 2019 budget eliminates one position funded at around $75,000 and replaces it with another, resulting in a wash. The RSU 1 board on Monday unanimously terminated the teaching contract of Don Seymour, a computer science teacher at Bath Middle School.

“This is related to … the redesign of the middle school curriculum,” board Chairman Stephen August explained.

Superintendent of Schools Patrick Manuel said Monday that the shift is not budget-driven. The district plans to replace the position that was cut with a new social studies teacher.

Humanities, a combination of English and social studies, is taught at the school, but “we just don’t feel like that’s in the best interest of our students,” Manuel explained, adding, “we’re splitting the language arts and the social studies, so we need more social studies teachers.”

About 70 percent of the proposed budget, or $21.1 million, is composed of salaries and benefits.

Up 5.74 percent over current spending, that category includes several new positions: three additional special educational technicians at the Phippsburg, Dike Newell and Fisher Mitchell elementary schools; a part-time finance clerk in the district’s business office; and an educational technician for math intervention at Woolwich Central School.

One day a week is also being added for Assistant Superintendent Katie Joseph in order to budget that position at full time. Instead of one full-time assistant principal splitting time between Woolwich and Bath Middle School, that role would be replaced by two full-time dean of student positions, one for each school.

Construction

The School Board on Monday also heard an update on the new Morse High School from Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger Architects.

Site work is to begin on vacant land at the Wing Farm Business Park this summer, and the Maine Department of Education is due Wednesday, May 9, to approve the budget for that phase of the project. A department subcommittee backed the spending plan last week.

Construction, due to start next March and conclude in August 2020, will comprise the second phase. The new building will also serve as the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center’s new headquarters.

RSU 1 voters last November approved the construction bond for a new school by a 3-1 margin. The state is funding $67.4 million of the $75.3 million cost; $7.2 million is to be paid locally through borrowing, with $700,000 earmarked from fundraising.

“Of the $75 million, the state is giving the RSU the thumbs up to go and finance $21 million of that this June,” Lamarre explained, noting the sum includes $15.2 million for site work such as ledge blasting, as well as all costs RSU 1 has spent on the project, site acquisition and permitting.

The RSU 1 board granted that budget unanimous support.

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

The Maine Department of Education is due Wednesday, May 9, to approve a site budget for the future new Morse High School in Bath. Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger Architects presented this design to the Regional School Unit 1 Board of Directors Monday.

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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.