PARIS — Voters will be asked to approve a $39.68 million school budget when the annual district budget meeting gets underway Thursday, June 8.
The district budget meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Forum in Paris. At that time, voters will act on a line-by-line warrant.
They will also be asked to approve exceeding the Essential Programs and Services funding by $1.09 million and use any additional state subsidy to pay for educational programs, facility needs, reduce local taxes and other measures.
The budget validation referendum will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, at polling stations in Norway, Paris, Oxford, Otisfield, Harrison, Waterford, West Paris and Hebron.
School Administrative District 17 directors voted unanimously at their May 15 board meeting to approve the warrants for the June 8 budget meeting and June 13 budget validation referendum.
The preliminary proposed school budget of $39,688,294 is a 1.73 percent hike over last year’s budget.
“The proposed school budget represents a balance between forwarding the school’s mission and strategic plan and the taxpayer’s expectation that their limited resources will be allocated to the most pressing needs,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts told the Advertiser Democrat. “The board’s efforts to address this balance has been made more difficult by the continued expectation of the governor and Legislature that the local taxpayers should assume a greater share of the cost to educate students.”
Colpitts said, “It is vital that the community participate in both the budget meeting on June 8 and the school referendum on June 13 to validate this work and permit the district to move forward.”
The increased costs in the proposed budget include: $500,000 or 2.5 percent in negotiated pay increases; $789,000 or 15 percent in special education; $475,000 or 8.065 percent in health insurance; $42,000 in reading curriculum, and $30,000 for professional development in the Gifted and Talented budget.
The proposed budget also includes a total increase of $55,000 to bring back full-time principals at Hebron Station and Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris, one additional bus purchase (the budget does include the purchase of three more as is traditional to keep the bus fleet younger than 10 years of age).
The budget fails to provide money to restore full-time principals at Harrison Waterford and Otisfield elementary schools, many facilities improvements, the hiring of additional teachers to reduce class size, increased nursing services and more.