2014-03-21 / Community

Initial budget pegged at just over 5 percent

Professional development boost sought in first reading of school budget
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The Regional School Unit 21 board of directors approved a first reading of the budget that calls for an increase of $1,945,622, or approximately 5.23 percent, on Monday night. The total proposed budget for FY15 is $39,182,306.

Significant expenditures include the district’s needs and,wants and, as well as demands from the state.

A major area proposed to increase is in professional development for teachers at Kennebunk High School, which includes an increase in training and travel that pertains to proficiency-based education. For professional development, the budget would increase 58.89 percent, for a total of $51,674.

Said Assistant Superintendent Sara Zito, “One of the things that we’ve done over the last couple of years, after we lost the stimulus funds, it was difficult for us to provide off-site professional development for teachers, and so we brought most of our consultants and training on site; but in the last two years we’ve also lost that opportunity to send people to some incredible opportunities outside our district and the state.

“With this increase it allows us more travel and the opportunity for our teachers to take advantage of things that are happening that we can replicate here,” Zito said.

Other major shifts in the budget included infrastructure issues.

Painting at Kennebunk High School is estimated to cost $37,000; $336,000 in roof repairs are needed at Mildred L. Day School, Sea Road School, Consolidated School and Kennebunk High School. If and when a renovation project for Mildred L. Day School, Kennebunkport Consolidated School and Kennebunk High School is approved, the repairs set aside in the budget would not be impacted by the renovation, said board member Tim Hussey.

In curriculum, English Language Learners (ELL) services, due to changes in state requirements, will see an increase of approximately 61 percent for a total of $32,217.

Other major curriculum expenditures include Kennebunk High School’s 1:1 technology initiative.

Earlier this month Jamie Jensen, director of information and technology services for the district, proposed that the high school adopt Acer Google Chrome books for its 1:1 computing goal.

At the March 3 meeting, Jensen told the board that in the last three years, increased computer access in grades three through six and in English classes at Kennebunk High School has impacted classroom instruction positively. “Digital workflow solutions are important to the successful integration of technology . . . technology integrarunning tion occurs when technology is ubiquitous,” Jensen said.

The Google Chrome book does not have an operating system, rather it is cloud-based and “uses Chrome web apps as opposed to an operating system,” Jensen told board members. “It’s a back door to the Internet, but in a scholarly fashion.”

The net value for 1:1 technology for the Google Chrome book is approximately $65,000.

The impact to taxpayers per $100,000 of property valuation is anticipated to be a .8 percent increase, or $12 for a Kennebunk resident for an annual increase of $1,507; in Arundel, an increase of 1.25 percent, or $18 for a total of $1,468; in Kennebunkport, an increase of 2.98 percent, or $22 is anticipated for a total of $775.

The board will hold a public forum regarding the FY15 budget on Monday, April 7 at Kennebunk Elementary School.

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