MSAD 35 Considers District Assessment Increase

Apr 26, 2017  By Mark Pechenik / news@seacoastonline.com

SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Facing a $769,000 cut in state subsidy, SAD 35 board members are eyeing a 2.97 percent increase in school district valuation for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The possible increase highlighted the board’s budget workshop Wednesday. A final budget proposal will be issued by SAD 35 Superintendent Mary C. Nash at the district’s regular meeting May 3 for approval by the board.

The higher valuation would amount to a $7.67 monthly tax increase on an average $250,000 home in Eliot, and a $5.23 monthly increase on the same home in South Berwick.

During Wednesday’s meeting, SAD 35 board members made it clear the increased valuation will be offset by significant cuts in school programs and services. These include increased class sizes on every grade level, elimination of 10 full-time equivalent positions and, overall, curriculum and program cuts amounting to $709,000. In total, the district’s budget will decrease by 1.5 percent from the current academic year funding.

“We need to make it loud and clear what sacrifices are being made in this budget,” said SAD 35 board Chairwoman Kerri Tice.

Several board members indicated during the meeting that while they would like to see a higher valuation to maintain district programs and services, the nearly 3 percent increase is one they hope voters will approve.

One significant change to the proposed budget is a planned savings of $170,000 to be realized in less spending on substitute teacher salaries. Half of these monies will be used to prevent the elimination of freshmen athletics at Marshwood High School, the other half will be utilized for the purchase of a much-needed boiler at Eliot Elementary School.

If approved by the board, the budget will be put forth at the May 17 district budget meeting for a public vote on its warrant articles. It will then be subject to the budget validation referendum for approval by voters June 13.

Following the meeting, Nash said if the Legislature votes to increase public education subsidies the funding “will directly go back to the schools.”

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