The total proposed expense budget for the 2019-2020 school year in Maine School Administrative Distrct 28 is approximately $16.9 million – an increase of $1.25 million or 8 percent from the current year. MSAD 28 includes the Camden-Rockport Elementary School and Camden-Rockport Middle School. Residents of both towns will be asked to approve the budget during a May 21 budget hearing.
The largest cost center of the budget is general instruction, which includes teacher salaries, health benefits and school supplies.
The School Board requests $5.4 million for the next school year, an increase of $109,000 or 2 percent.
Some factors contributing to this increase are the addition of two new teachers, one in Grade 4 and another in Grade 1 at Camden-Rockport Elementary School (CRES); a Grade 3 teaching position is being removed. Also included are base wage increases and health care increases, both budgeted at around 2 percent.
The Special Education budget for the year is estimated at $2.2 million, up $98,000 or 4 percent.
The increase reflects the above increases to wages and health care, as well as an increased contingency from $35,000 to $50,000. The budget for ‘other instruction,’ which includes athletics and summer school, has risen by $8,000 or 7 percent for a total of $118,000. Factors contributing to this increase include new stipends, increases in athletic supplies as well as an increase in dues and fees.
The largest monetary increase in the budget is the school’s debt service, which is set to rise by $831,000 or 25 percent from the previous year.
This includes a bond repayment for the Mary E. Taylor building for $477,000 and a Camden-Rockport Middle School (CRMS) bond payment for $336,000.
Superintendent Maria Libby explained the increases when she presented the budget at a recent meeting of the Rockport Select Board, noting that the MET payment is the first payment on a 20-year, $4.9 million bond.
“We also have a light increase to our middle school bond payment,” she said. “Last year we moved the principal payment to cover the cost of construction when the cost of the project came in over bid, and we didn’t pay our first principal payment....The day before the town vote last year, there were about 600 residents between Camden and Rockport who attended that meeting to vote on all of the things we needed to do to come up with the money to pay for the rest of the building when it came in over budget, and one of those was to take a $3 million bond premium that was part of the $5 million we needed to come up with,” said Libby.
Libby said that there wasn’t enough time to have the $3 million bond premium placed in last year’s budget, so this year’s budget now includes a $260,000 bond premium payment. Libby said the bond payments for MET and CRES will begin to decrease each year after 2020. While expenses in the district have increased by 8 percent, revenues for the 2019-2020 year are expected to increase by $221,000 or 16 percent, primarily due to increases in Special Education tuition.
The overall impact to taxpayers is an increase of 7.2 percent: Camden taxpayers will see an increase of 4 percent or $23 per $100,000 worth of valuation. Taxpayers in Rockport will see an increase of 11 percent or $76 per $100,000 of valuation. Libby explained the disparity between the two increases reflects the number of students from each town that are enrolled in the schools.
Other cost centers include:
Student/Staff Support: $1,066,635, up $33,625 or 3 percent.
Staff administration: $511,872, down $4,970 or 1 percent.
School administration: $747,928, up $24,116 or 3 percent.
Transportation: $732,953, down $6,493 or 1 percent.
Facilities/Maintenance: $1,742,611, up $66,710 or 4 percent.
The public hearing for the MSAD #28 budget will be held Tuesday, May 21, at 6 p.m. in the Strom Auditorium at the Camden-Rockport High School.