RSU 1 voters overwhelmingly approve school budget

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BATH — The Regional School Unit 1 budget of $30.1 million passed easily on Tuesday by a margin of more than 4 to 1.

The fiscal year 2019 spending plan received initial voter approval at a May 29 district budget meeting, which drew about 50 RSU 1 residents.

Tuesday’s vote was 2,756 to 643. The budget passed 1,559 to 278 in Bath, 175-30 in Arrowsic, 462-118 in Phippsburg, and 560-217 in Woolwich, according to unofficial results.

“We’re very pleased with the preliminary results,” Superintendent Patrick Manuel said Wednesday morning. “We appreciate the support from our four communities, and thank the School Board and the administrative team for all of the time and effort they put into preparing a responsible budget that will help move forward the district.”

The budget reflects a 3.87 percent hike over current spending. About 70 percent of the budget, or $21.1 million, is comprised 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 to be 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.

A computer science teaching position at Bath Middle School is being replaced with a new social studies teacher.

The $18.2 million RSU 1 seeks to raise in taxes would mean an increase of nearly $470,000 from the current local contribution. Of this amount, Bath would be assessed $10.4 million (up 3.67 percent); Arrowsic, nearly $550,000 (up 0.99 percent); Phippsburg, almost $3 million (down 3.78 percent); and Woolwich, $4.3 million (up 5.26 percent).

The district is receiving more state aid to education this year to offset expenses – $10.1 million, a nearly $690,000 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.