2012-05-11 / Community

School budget is ready for May 15 voting day

RSU 21 budget increase is less than 1 percent
By Adam Chabot
Staff Writer

The $35.9 million fiscal year 2012-2013 budget was cleared by voters at a Regional School Unit 21 budget meeting May 1, and will proceed to a budget validation referendum vote May 15.

The budget reflects an increase of .69 percent or approximately $246,000 from the current budget and includes 12 staff cuts.

Andrew Dolloff, superintendent of RSU 21, said there has been such little discussion about the budget because of the hard work the administration and the board of directors did to create a solid budget.

“What we saw here tonight was at least a group of individuals in this room who realized that the administration and the board have done what they can to control spending,” Dolloff said.

The RSU 21 Board of Directors approved the budget on April 2, trimming a total of 12 positions, including a Kennebunk High School art teacher; three special education technicians; a development officer in charge of public relations; one part-time math-science teacher; one part-time counselor at Kennebunk High School; three office positions; one custodian and a bus driver.

One voter did speak out against Article 1, which proposed expending approximately $15.9 million for regular instruction for all schools in the RSU. Regular instruction includes salaries and benefits for teachers and covers costs of classroom supplies and equipment.

John Costin, of Kennebunk, disagreed with cutting art teachers and therefore wouldn’t vote to approve Article 1. Costin said he believes art programs are an integral part of a student’s education and therefore shouldn’t be cut.

Even though money could not be added to the budget because of state law, Costin said if he could make the final decision, he would add at least $72,000 to cover the full salary and benefits for an art teacher at Kennebunk High School.

“I think we’re selling the community short,” Costin said. “Unfortunately, I think it doesn’t just shortchange the students, it shortchanges the entire community.”

There were a total of 19 warrant articles voted on by over 130 Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel voters in attendance. All articles were voted on by a show of hands except for the Article 14, which was a written vote.

Article 14, which passed 129-7, allowed an additional $5.3 million in local funds to be spent over the state of Maine Essential Programs and Services model to fund the proposed budget. Essential Programs and Services, or EPS, are costs determined by a non-debatable, statewide formula to provide a minimum number of projected expenses so students can receive a proper education.

Rachel McGlashan, a gifted and talented special services teacher at Middle School of the Kennebunks, said even though the budget seemed to pass without much contention, she urged all residents to make sure they voted on May 15.

“Please, get out there and vote,” McGlashan said to the crowd. McGlashan also stressed to voters that they cannot be “complacent” about the vote, either.

Dolloff said that everyone in their respective communities should be encouraging people to go to the polls.

“It’s the communities’ goal to get to the polls,” Dolloff said. “ … we encourage as many people as possible to get to the polls, to vote by absentee ballot or however they need to (vote). We encourage them to have their opinions be heard.”

Staff Writer Adam Chabot can be reached at 282-4337 ext. 233.

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