Proposed expenses for the Five Town CSD in the 2019-2020 academic year are up 2.89 percent or $363,133 from the previous year for a total requested budget of $12.9 million. The Five Town CSD includes the Camden Hills Regional High School, which is attended by students from Camden, Rockport, Hope, Lincolnville and Appleton. The average tax increase to residents of these towns is an estimated 4 percent.
The budget, presented by the School Board, anticipates revenues in the district will decrease by 2.5 percent or $54,448 in the coming school year. The budget attributes this decline to an increase in State subsidy but a lower debt service contribution; the state subsidy will decrease by approximately $37,000 for a total of $1.5 million. Tuition costs for the year have also dropped by $19,600 or 4 percent for a total of $475,000.
A public vote on the proposed budget will be held Tuesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at the Strom Auditorium at CHRHS.
The cost of regular instruction, which includes teacher salaries, health benefits and school supplies, has increased by 5 percent or $248,000 for a total of $5.2 million. This estimate represents increases to base salaries in the amount of 2.25 percent as well as a 7 percent increase in health care costs. The regular instruction budget also increases the proposed “Hatchery” at the high school, an “innovation center where ideas are hatched and nurtured.”
The budget states that the district is budgeting one half of a media instructor position to partially fund an “innovation coach” for the Hatchery, and that the district will be applying for a grant to fund costs including guest speaker series and cafe nights at the center. When Superintendent Maria Libby presented the budget to the Rockport Select Board on May 13 she said one goal is to invite creators, innovators and entrepreneurs to speak before students at the Hatchery and share their stories to inspire creativity.
The budget for Special Education has increased by roughly 9 percent or $100,000. Included in this budget is the addition of a tutor to the Zenith program, a $20,000 reduction to the contingency plan and the aforementioned increases to wages and health care.
The Mid-Coast School of Technology budget line has increased by 8 percent or $5,000 due to in increase in program assessment. The budget for other instruction, which includes athletics and summer school, has increased by 5 percent or $27,000 due to athletic stipend wage increases and a rise in contracted athletic services.
Student and staff support costs are down by approximately 1 percent or $15,000 due to a decrease in participation in the staff health care election as well as a reduction to lease and non-lease payments. There has been a cost increase in curriculum software and an increase to the Equity initiative because now the district is paying for all sophomores to take the PSAT.
System administration has increased by 7 percent or $34,000 due to wage and benefit increases as well as an increase of $21,500 which has been budgeted for a Director of Development and Communications position. School administration costs are up by 4 percent or $20,000 due to wage and benefit increases and the change in the staff health insurance election.
Transportation costs will remain the same from the previous year, a budget of $448,935, due to a contract agreement. The budget for operations and maintenance will increase by less than 1 percent or $4,000 for a total of $1.38 million, due to an increase in electricity costs, a reduction in contracted repairs as well an additional full time position to be split between schools within Five Town CSD and MSAD #28.
The debt service in the district is down 4 percent or $70,000 for a total of $1.7 million. There will be a decrease to the interest payment for the high school, which is expected to be entirely paid off by November of 2021. Other costs, including food service, are expected to increase by 12 percent or $9,000 for a total of $82,000, due in part to an increase in equity initiatives which provide reduced cost or free meals to students.
The overall taxpayer increase is estimated at 4 percent or $417,581.
Taxes in Camden will increase by 5.8 percent or $17.30 per $100,000 for a toal of $224,706.
Taxes in Rockport will increase by 2 percent or $7.87 per $100,000 for a total of $75,200.
Taxes in Hope will increase by 5.7 percent or $22.85 per $100,000 for a total of $46,394.
Taxes in Lincolnville will increase by 5.4 percent or $21.70 per $100,000 for a total of $86,137.
Taxes in Appleton will decrease by 2.7 percent or $11.46 per $100,000 for a total decrease of $14,856.
Enrollment at the Camden Hills Regional High School in the 2019-2020 academic year is expected to increase by 17 students for a total of 707.