RSU 5 board to vote on $1.15M budget hike

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FREEPORT — The Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors is slated to vote on a proposed fiscal year 2020 budget March 27 that includes an increase of $1.15 million over this year’s $33 million budget.

The proposed budget could increase overall taxes assessed to Freeport, Pownal and Durham by 4.2 percent, up from $25.8 million. However, the impact on each town’s tax rate won’t be released until after the School Board votes on the budget, Director of Finance Michelle Lickteig said.

“Currently, I can only give you the overall tax increase for the school portion of the budget,” Lickteig said. “We don’t give out individual town information until the School Board votes on the budget March 27. Even then, it is only an estimate, as it is based on the current year’s town valuations and mil rates.”

Factors driving the increase include hiring a full-time special education teacher ($82,000) and full-time special education educational technician ($41,000) at Mast Landing School, as well as a full-time teacher at Morse Street School ($82,000). Two new full-time educational technicians are included, as well as a part-time ed tech, at Morse Street School, Mast Landing School, and Pownal Elementary School ($83,000). 

“We need to fill these positions based on enrollment increases,” Lickteig said.

The projected enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year is 1,993 students, up from 1,846 students in 2015-2016.

Other line items responsible for the increase are facilities and transportation, according to Superintendent of Schools Becky Foley.

“We are asking for an additional van, van driver, and bus aide,” Foley said. “This is primarily due to an increase in specialized transportation needed for students with disabilities.”

The part-time van driver’s salary would be $12,500 and a part-time bus aide would be paid $14,400. The additional van would cost $35,000.

Opportunities for the public to comment will come at three public forums, the first on April 10 from 6-6:30 p.m. at Durham Community School.

The proposed spending plan will be voted on at the annual budget meeting on May 22 and in the public budget referendum on June 11.

The board also voted March 18 to join the Greater Sebago Education Alliance.

Other school departments in GSEA include Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Gorham, Portland, RSU 6 (Bonney Eagle), RSU 15 (Gray-New Gloucester), South Portland, Westbrook and RSU 14 (Windham).

According to Foley, there are many benefits to joining the GSEA, including financial advantages for bulk purchases and access to professional development programs for employees.

Patti McDonald can be reached at 780-9123 or pmcdonald@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @pmcdonaldme.

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