Shaved Bath-area school budget goes to public hearing

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BATH — A Regional School Unit 1 budget that would raise district-wide taxes 3.44 percent goes to a public hearing Monday, April 25.

The fiscal 2017 tax increase is down slightly from the 3.51 percent hike projected last month.

Since then, about $10,500 has been shaved from the nearly $28.3 million budget, the net result after a Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math, or STEAM, teacher at Morse High School was reduced from a full- to half-time position. A day of music was added, too, at Morse High School, according to RSU 1 Business Manager Debra Clark.

Next year’s budget could increase 3.4 percent, or $928,000. Offsetting revenues include $9.4 million in state subsidy, up about $53,000.

The $17.1 million in taxes assessed to the four member communities reflect a 3.44 percent, or about $569,000, increase. Bath’s share would be $9.7 million, up 3.45 percent; Arrowsic’s, nearly $508,000, a 12.27 percent hike; Phippsburg’s, $3 million, up about 1.71 percent, and Woolwich’s, $3.9 million, a 3.72 percent increase.

Salaries and benefits, which comprise 68 percent of the budget, could rise 3.4 percent to reach a total of $19.2 million.

Aside from the $45,000 STEAM position, two other new positions – averaging about $70,000 each including benefits – have been added: a middle school foreign language teacher, and a district-wide technology integration position.

The spending plan also includes approximately $58,000 toward increased time for an elementary school nurse. A part-time position is being replaced by a full-time employee, Clark said last month.

A public forum on the budget will be held at Bath Middle School, 6 Old Brunswick Road, at 6 p.m. Monday, April 27. Once approved by the RSU 1 Board of Directors, the budget undergoes two public votes: a district budget meeting May 31, and a budget validation referendum June 14.

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.