SAD 35 School Board Approves Additional State Subsidy
By Mark Pechenik email@example.com July 27, 2017
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — SAD 35′s board of directors voted unanimously to approve an additional state subsidy of $538,000 resulting from the Legislature’s biennial budget negotiations.
The funding was possible thanks to a warrant article, approved by Eliot and South Berwick voters as part of the district’s 2018 budget referendum, that allowed the board to dedicate any additional state monies to make up for a $769,000 cut in state funding for the district.
The largest share of the new subsidy – $459,000 – will go toward regular instruction, most notably in the rehiring of 6.9 of the 10 full-time equivalent teaching staff dismissed due to the budget shortfall.
Central Elementary School in South Berwick, in particular, will benefit from the new subsidy with a second-grade and kindergarten teacher being brought back to the school. In addition, funding is being set aside for two pre-kindergarten teachers in the event of increased enrollment.
Facilities will also see a boost with additional diesel allocation, plus mail delivery and repaving at Marshwood Middle School accounting for some of the $72,200 set aside in that expense category.
However, because the new state subsidy falls short of the original funding decrease, the district was forced to make tough decisions on what it could not afford in the coming year.
Among positions eliminated due to the funding shortfall are a third grade and specialist teacher at Eliot Elementary School; a math lab, wellness and writing teacher at Marshwood Middle School; and a history, English language arts, art, physical education and math/science teacher at Marshwood High School.
As indicated by Superintendent Mary Nash, the additional state funding enabled the district to fulfill one of its major goals. “It allowed us to restore class sizes to their regular configurations,” she said.
Prior to the extra monies, the district was faced with the possibility of class sizes exceeding its recommended limits, plus one additional student.
“I personally would like to thank our entire legislative delegation for their courageous budget leadership and support,” said Nash, who also praised “the entire community for standing strong on behalf of our children and families.”
In other business
The board approved the expenditure of $114,000 for the lease purchase of technology equipment. The board regularly appropriates $150,000 annually to replace equipment that is four years old, such as laptop computers for students, but settled for a lower amount due to less state funding.
The board also $90,000 for the lease purchase of a new school bus.
Finally, the board approved Aug. 30 as opening day for teachers and new staff introductions. The first day of school will be Sept. 5.