SAD 75 budget could decline by almost $600K, with taxes flat

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TOPSHAM — School Administrative District 75 is proposing a fiscal 2012 budget of $34.2 million, a reduction of nearly $594,000 from this year.

The budget includes $13.7 million of state subsidy, a reduction of $1.1 million from fiscal 2011. SAD 75 is offsetting part of that loss with nearly $410,000 left in money the district received through the federal Education Jobs Fund program, which can only be used for non-administrative salaries.

The district also proposes to use $1.1 million in carry-over funds – $200,000 more than in fiscal 2011 – to offset the loss.

After recent budget forums in Harpswell, Bowdoinham and Topsham, the district’s Finance Committee will incorporate input from the hearings on Wednesday, April 13 at 6 p.m. at Mt. Ararat High School.

Superintendent Mike Wilhelm said last week that one concern aired at the first public meeting, held March 30 in Harpswell, was the reduction of librarians in the district by 1.8 positions, a savings of about $67,000. Elementary library staffing would be reconfigured so that there will be one librarian for the five elementary schools, and an educational technician will be added so that either a librarian or ed tech will staff each library four days a week.

The district aims to address a revenue shortfall of nearly $594,000 without increasing the district-wide contribution or jeopardizing its programs. Next year’s budget so far calls for no salary increases for teachers and district office and support staff, and a 1.5 percent increase by contract for principals and administrators. Health insurance could be up nearly $360,000, or 10 percent, while funding for capital projects would be reduced $10,000.

Anticipated retirements should save SAD 75 about $14,000, and the closure of West Harpswell School is expected to save about $176,000.

Positions proposed to be cut, besides the librarians, include two eighth-grade Mt. Ararat Middle School teachers; a science teacher and two alternative education staff at Mt. Ararat High School; an elementary interventionist; 1.5 educational technicians and a high school secretary.

Valuation has increased in Topsham, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham, but has decreased in Harpswell. The local contributions for those towns change accordingly to keep next year’s total flat at $18.7 million.

Topsham would see a 3.15 percent increase to $7.8 million, Bowdoin would increase 2.18 percent to $2.1 million and Bowdoinham would increase 2.36 percent to $2.3 million. Harpswell would see a nearly 5 percent decrease to $6.5 million.

The SAD 75 Board of Directors will vote on the budget April 28, and a public budget meeting will follow on May 12. The budget must then pass two final hurdles: a district budget meeting on May 26 and a budget validation referendum on June 14.

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

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.