Residents across the Midcoast will vote on school budgets in June, and many municipalities are holding district budget meetings in the coming weeks.

Voters in Brunswick, Bath, Arrowsic, Woolwich, Phippsburg, Topsham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell, and Wiscasset are set to go to the polls to decide whether to approve funding for the regional school units and school administrative districts.

With the continued reduction in state and federal funding, districts and school boards are having to find creative ways to save money while keeping their focus on delivering the best education to the children in the Midcoast.

In SAD 75 in Topsham, a new superintendent will lead the district as it gets closer to the start of construction of the new Mt. Ararat High School. The Brunswick School Department was asked by the Town Council to shave off another $800,000 from their budget, and in Regional School Unit 1 in Bath, the budget is expected to increase by more than $1 million.

SAD 75 – Topsham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Harpswell
The board unanimously approved the district’s nearly $38 million budget during a meeting last month.
The proposed spending plan of $37,837,232 increased $535,706 — or 1.4 percent — over last year. The budget includes a new preschool program costing $163,287.

Voters in the four-town district will have a chance to discuss the budget at a district-wide budget meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 24, at Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham before voting on the proposal on June 12.
The district is losing almost $300,000 in state subsidy, a number that would be more than $518,000 if not for the implementation of the new preschool program.

Taxpayers in Topsham will be hit the hardest by the upcoming budget, with a 5.8 percent increase in the town’s contribution. For a home with an assessed value of $204,300, a taxpayer will pay $115 more than last year.
The biggest line-item increase is the 1.9 percent raise in teacher salaries, up $264,861 over last year. The district is saving $134,107, or 7.6 percent, on its debt service and capital leases.

The upcoming budget includes funding for a new teacher at Williams-Cone Elementary, a new business and human resource software package, a half-time teacher for the English Language Development program, a new high school summer program and professional development for a new middle school math series.

The district is also seeing savings by cutting three special education teaching positions due to declining caseloads.

RSU 1 — Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich
While the district continues to move ahead on the construction of a new Morse High School, there is a proposed 3.87 percent increase in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Among the increases are an additional $516,000 for regular instruction and $313,000 for special education instruction, plus an added $221,000 for operation and maintenance. RSU 1 is saving nearly $70,000 in school administration costs.

More than 70 percent of the budget is salaries and benefits for employees, and the district is proposing a 5.74 percent increase in those line items. The district is asking to spend $21,123,757, up $1,145,901 from last year.

RSU 1 is asking for additional funding for three educational technician positions; one at Phippsburg Elementary, one at Dike-Newell and one at Fisher-Mitchell.

The district also wants to fund a part-time finance clerk, one additional day per week for an assistant superintendent, two dean of students positions at Bath Middle and Woolwich Central and an additional educational technician for math intervention at Woolwich.

The district-wide budget meeting begins at 6 p.m. May 29, at Bath Middle School.

Brunswick School Department
The district was told by the Town Council to reduce its proposed operating budget to limit the impact any increase would have on taxpayers, and following several meetings and public forums, the Council and School Board agreed on a spending plan.

The new proposal calls for the district to spend $38,652,210, an increase of $773,741, or 2.04 percent, over last year.
Last year’s $37.9 million school budget was up 0.49 percent over the previous year, and over the last 10 years, the budget has averaged a 1.49 percent increase, or about $514,000 per year.

The district originally proposed spending more than $1 million over last year, and when factoring in non-local revenue and the state-defined local required contribution, the district asked for about $1.66 million more than last year, or 3.74 percent.

The budget includes a 7.71 percent increase in regular education and an 8.2 percent increase in special education spending. The district expects to save 16.43 percent, or about $290,000, in debt service costs, and it is asking to spend 13.66 percent, or $216,904, on transportation.