District serves Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Searsmont and Swanville

RSU 71 proposes school budget increase of 2.35 percent

Posted:  Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 3:15pm
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BELFAST — The Regional School Unit 71 proposed budget for the 2019-2020 academic year will see an increase of 2.35 percent. 

The proposed budget for the upcoming school year is $28,019,030.25. 

The actual budget for this school year was $27,021,744.39, creating a variance of $997,285.86. 

In a letter attached to the proposed budget, Superintendent Mary Alice McLean noted several factors have enabled the district to “create a proposed budget with a modest increase while adding several positions that have long been needed and advocated for by parents, students, staff and the school board.” 

First, the district received “better than expected news” regarding state funding available to the district. 

The second factor revolved around “a long-standing habit of exceptional frugality, fiscal restraint, grant-writing and thrift on the part of district staff and our school board, which have resulted in a 2.2 million dollar carry forward.” 

Lastly, McLean noted the school board carefully investigated and analyzed the district’s class size policy in relation to actual class sizes. Through its investigation and analysis, there is a plan to consolidate sections and classes at Captain Albert Stevens, East Belfast, Kermit Nickerson, Troy Howard Middle School and Belfast Area High School’s alternative education program, Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (BCOPE). 

McLean noted that due to resignations and retirements, there will be no reduction in force and all staff members will keep their jobs.

“We will be using a large portion of our carry-forward to fund the following requests from each of our seven schools while putting the remainder into our Capital Improvement Fund in anticipation that significant funding for capital expenses will be needed in the future to address issues in the ‘tri-town’ schools of Searsmont, Belmont and Morrill,” said McLean. 

Changes requested by schools within the district and recommended by the school board include: 

• The addition of one elementary guidance counselor: The vision is one school counselor shared between the Ames and Weymouth Schools, one counselor shared between the East Belfast and Kermit Nickerson Schools, and one full-time counselor at the Captain Albert Stevens School.

• The addition of one elementary school nurse: The vision is one school nurse between the Ames and Weymouth Schools, one school nurse between the East Belfast and Kermit Nickerson Schools, and one full-time nurse at the Captain Albert Stevens School. 

Adding an assistant principal at Captain Albert Stevens School: In a school of 300 students plus several day treatment programs, an assistant to the principal has long been needed, according to the school and board.

• Increasing the half-time registrar at the high school to full-time: In a school of 500 students, more support is required in the school counselling office, according to the school and board.

• Increasing a half-time English teacher at the high school to full-time: In a school of 500 students required to take English all four years, more classes and English electives are needed, according to the school and board.

The realization of a World Language position at the middle level: A long-time aspiration of the district

 Addition of an assistant mechanic in the bus garage: “In a district our size we need to provide additional support for the maintenance and repair of our fleet of school buses.”

• The addition of a third maintenance worker: “Our community has voiced a desire to improve the upkeep and beautification of our buildings and grounds.”

Budget Additions

Addition of an assistant principal at Captain Albert Stevens Elementary School

• Addition on an elementary school nurse

• Addition of an elementary school guidance counselor

• Addition of a World Language position at Troy Howard Middle School

• Increasing guidance administrative assistant from half time to full time at Belfast Area High School

• Increasing English teacher from half to full time at Belfast Area High School

• Paving at Troy Howard Middle School

• Purchase one new bus and lease one new bus

• Addition of one full time maintenance position

Addition of an assistant mechanic

• Lease program to replace cleaning equipment at all schools

• Addition of two speech pathologists and three occupational therapists

 First principal payment on the Belfast Area High School renovation construction project

School Board Budget Recommendations

Regular Instruction (Salaries, Benefits, Supplies): $9,214,788.84

Special Education: $5,612,048.74

Career and Technical Education: $25,000

Other Instruction (Sports and Leadership wages, officials, sports transportation, athletic supplies): $592,032

Student and Staff Support (Guidance, School Nurse, Technology, Library): $2,886,589

System Administration (Board of Directors, legal services, Central Office): $609,466

School Administration (Principals, Assistant Principals, Support Staff): $1,647,826.00

Transportation and Buses: $1,949,247

Facilities Maintenance: $3,612,236

Debt Service and Other Commitments: $1,869,796.67

 

City/Town Total Appropriated Total Raised (and RSU assessments)
Belfast $10,754,506.30 $6,935,742
Belmont $2,004,079.38 $549,102
Morrill $1,813,682.03 $541,926
Searsmont $2,596,862.90 $1,355,022
Swanville $2,459,462.75 $983,112
Total $19,628,593.36 $10,364,904

 

The district’s public budget meeting will be held Monday, May 20 at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. 

Voters from the towns will take action and approve the budget. 

The budget validation referendum vote will take place Tuesday, June 11 at the local polling places. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 


Reach George Harvey at: sports@penbaypilot.com