SAD 17 projected budget down, local share up

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PARIS — Superintendent Rick Colpitts unveiled a proposed $40,046, 613 Fiscal 2019 budget at the April 3 Board of Directors meeting.

The proposed budget shows a .39 or $157,166 decrease over the approved Fiscal 2018 budget of $40,203,780. It does not include the state subsidy for vocational education because of a change in the funding formula at the state level this year.

The subsidy will go directly to the Oxford Hills Technical School (Maine Vocational Region [MVR] 11) and is not included in the SAD 17 revenue as it has been in the past. Only the proposed expenses that exceed the subsidy – $115,095 – are included in the SAD 17 budget.

“This is the best guess at where things are going,” Colpitts told the board of directors of the budget that he is still refining.

The superintendent’s budget was revealed to boards of selectmen from the eight district towns at a meeting on April 3 and later in the month it will be presented to members of the community. Comments and questions will be gathered from those forums and become part of the Budget Committee’s deliberations in preparing its proposed budget that will go to the full board for a vote on May 7.

Voters in the eight district towns will then meet at the annual district budget hearing/meeting on June 7 and validate the budget during the referendum at each of the town’s voting polls on June 12.

The proposed budget includes $1.1 million in funding for new or expanded positions including:

  • a teaching principal at Otisfield Elementary School.
  • $340,000 for six pre-kindergarten teachers;
  • $175,000 for two social workers;
  • $135,000 for special education technicians;
  • $67,250 for a substance abuse coordinator.

Other budget increases include:

  • $30,000 for the elementary summer school;
  • $27,600 for the Streaked Mountain School lease and renovations at the new Paris facility .

Three areas of fixed costs show an increase including $653,178 or 10.5 percent increase in special education costs; $876,889 or a 9 percent increase in health insurance costs and $523,980 or a 2.3 percent increase in negotiated costs to date.

The proposed budget fails to provide funds for a new high school roof, a single bus run necessary to implement late class starts at the high and middle school, grade 3-6 interventionists, full time principals at the Harrison and Waterford elementary schools and other issues that were considered priority by directors when funding became available.

Local increase

The proposed total assessment for Fiscal 2019 show increases for all eight district towns ranging from a low of 1.54 for Waterford to a high of 6.70 for Otisfield. The town of Oxford will see a 5.37 percent increase or $4,066,209; Paris will see a 3.92 percent increase $120,213.65 and Norway $148,422 or a 3.84 percent increase.

“Everyone will see an increase if the budget passes without changes,” Colpitts said.

Colpitts said the board and administration have no control over budget impacts such as town enrollments and valuations, cost sharing, mandates and special education services required by IEPs (Individual Education Plans.)

While a summary of ten year school funding impacts show a 77.49 increase in the carryover amounts and a 37.86 increase in local assessments, it also shows a 10.22 reduction in state subsidy coming to the district; and an 18.49 reduction in other areas for a total budget increase over a ten-year period of only 11 percent.

MVR11 budget 

Oxford Hills Technical School Director Shawn Lambert unveiled a $3,653,444 Fiscal 2019 budget, an 8.46 or $285,003 increase over the approved Fiscal 2018 budget of $3,368,441.

The budget will be presented to the MVR 11 board of directors at its meeting Thursday night.

It includes an increase of about $100,000 in the Contingency Fund,  an increase of $56,648 in the proposed $1.5 million salary accounts but decreases in other areas such as  administrative health insurance and facilities.

Lambert said the MVR 11 budget reflects a large increase in Contingency in order to be prepared if a piece of equipment goes down. For example, he said , if a walk-in refrigerator breaks down that is a $30,000 to $40,000 replacement cost.

Historically, 90 percent of Career and Technical Education (CTE) revenues were filtered through the SAD 17 budget. That amount is now going directly to the MVR 11 budget. Each CTE school is now provided state subsidy based on a Essential Programs and Services budget model formula developed for CTEs.

The Essential Programs and Services formula is based on a number of factors including a three-year average enrollment of approved courses; direct instruction and central administration costs and other factors. Program equipment is not included in the formula. The state Department of Education is trying to determine how to handle that for the future.

The state will fund 100 percent of its share, Lambert said. Anything that is budgeted above that amount becomes the local districts’ responsibility to fund.

In this case, $115,000 is needed to operate the school and that amount will be picked up in the SAD 17 budget.

Lambert said the new formula resulted in winners and losers across the state. “We are a loser,” he said of the MVR 11 result.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net