School budget OK'd in Bath, other RSU 1 communities

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BATH — Voters in the four Regional School Unit 1 communities approved a nearly $25 million fiscal 2011 budget on Tuesday.

The June 8 vote follows a district budget meeting held last week.

Bath voted 1,720 to 429 in favor of the budget. Arrowsic supported it 161-32, Phippsburg 457-255, West Bath 463-151 and Woolwich 542-264.

“It shows that even during hard (economic) times, the people have tremendous support for their children, and they want them to get a great education,” RSU 1 Superintendent William Shuttleworth said Tuesday night.

RSU 1 voters also supported continuing the budget validation referendum process for another three years. In Bath the vote was 1,245 to 806 in favor, while it was 102-84 in Arrowsic, 562-168 in Phippsburg, 388-225 in West Bath and 509-289 in Woolwich.

Next year’s budget is a decrease of more than $133,000, or 0.53 percent, from the current year. The fiscal 2011 local contribution of $16.54 million is increasing nearly $100,000, or 0.58 percent, from this year.

The school district’s anticipated revenue reductions include a more than $400,000 cut in state subsidy.

Three communities will see their contributions drop through the district’s cost-sharing formula: Arrowsic, down 16.22 percent to more than $406,000, Phippsburg, down 3.72 percent to $2.85 million, and West Bath, down 0.63 percent to $2.51 million.

Bath will contribute $7.8 million, 0.07 percent more than the current year. Woolwich will pay nearly $3 million, an increase of 11 percent, a hike due to increases in both property value and student enrollment. The latter increase is due to construction of a new school, scheduled to open in September 2012.

The budget cuts five teaching positions in kindergarten through eighth-grade foreign language, with one teacher retiring and a slot being created for a world language technology integration specialist. That specialist will guide the shift of elementary school foreign language classes from classroom instruction to Web-based learning.

Two teaching positions are also to be cut at Morse High School.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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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.