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- The Forecaster
TOPSHAM — School Administrative District 75 officials expect still-unknown salary increases, and an increased assessment from Region 10 Technical High School, to contribute to an anticipated budget hike.
Business Manager Mark Conrad and Interim Superintendent Bob Lucy presented a draft fiscal year 2020 budget March 19, after which the district held three public budget hearings, which together drew just 10 residents, Conrad said at Tuesday’s meeting in Bowdoinham.
The $41.2 million spending plan, up $3.4 million (8.9 percent) from the current year, does not include staff raises, which are still being negotiated. There is no placeholder number in the budget for those increases, Conrad said.
The numbers will not be available until the School Board and Merrymeeting Employees Association agree on a new contract, he said.
The district, meanwhile, had budgeted nearly $110,000 for its Region 10 assessment. But a more than $100,000 cut in state subsidy for the school has caused that assessment to increase to about $147,000, according to Conrad.
On the other hand, an expected increase of $235,000 in out-of-district special education placement costs has been shaved by about $40,000, nearly offsetting the Region 10 hike.
The district had budgeted about $500,000 in special education costs to cover the out-of-district placement expenses, along with contracted services ($73,300), and retaining two educational technician positions the SAD 75 Board of Directors approved at the start of the year.
Those hikes reflect the increasing needs of currently enrolled special education students and the rising number of students identified for such services, Conrad explained.
The largest component in next year’s overall spending increase is an estimated $1.7 million in interest for debt service, due primarily to the construction of a new Mt. Ararat High School.
Nearly $576,000 in new resource recommendations include four educational technicians for incoming elementary students (nearly $163,000); an allowance for the cost of moving in to the new school ($95,000); two ed techs to cover one-to-one needs at the secondary level (about $81,000); and a special education teacher to cover caseloads (nearly $75,000).
A projected $15.3 million in state aid to education, up 11.1 percent from last year’s subsidy amount, is largely offsetting the budget. With $112,000 in other revenues and $400,000 in fund balance carryover also subtracted, $25.4 million remains to be assessed to SAD 75’s four member towns.
Topsham would be taxed $10.8 million, a 5 percent increase; Harpswell, $8.4 million, up nearly 9 percent; Bowdoin, $3.1 million, up 5.8 percent; and Bowdoinham, $3.2 million, up 6.6 percent.
Due to Harpswell’s high property values, the state does not subsidize new debt service or operating costs for that town, Conrad said.
Impacts per average home in each town should be available next week.
The SAD 75 Board of Directors is due to approve the budget April 25, after which it goes to two public votes: a district budget meeting May 23, and a budget validation referendum June 11.
Mark Conrad, School Administrative District 75’s business manager, presents next year’s proposed budget to a sparse audience Tuesday at Bowdoinham Community School.