By Mark Pechenik May 17
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Eliot and South Berwick residents at the SAD 35 district budget meeting Wednesday approved a $30,587,727 budget for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 by a vote of 70 to 9.
District voters in the two communities will now be asked to approve the recommended budget at the District Budget Validation Referendum June 12.
At the outset of the meeting, school board chairwoman Kerri Tice asked the community to support the budget which, she said, was “the culmination of months of hard work.” Referring to last year’s budget, in which class sizes were increased due to a $769,000 cut in state funding, Tice said “efficiencies in spending will mean drastic cuts will not be needed this year.”
A loss of $425,000 in state subsidy, along with an enrollment decrease of 84 students and a $71 million uptick in the community’s property valuation, led to a 3.17 percent decrease for the upcoming budget – from $31,590,682 in 2018 to $30,587,727 this year.
Among the largest expenditures approved by those at the May 16 meeting was $14,546,813 for regular classroom instruction, the gifted and talented program, and the English language learners program. Another cost winning approval was $3,908,185 for expenditures exceeding the state’s recommended funding formula, known as essential programs and services or EPS.
The board offered several reasons for exceeding the EPS such as the state’s failure to meet its obligation to fund 55 percent of public education costs. Other needs cited included recruitment and retention of highly qualified teaching staff, adequate nursing staff in district schools and the need to meet rising technology, extra-curricular, and transportation costs.
Decreases in the budget included a 6.18 reduction in building maintenance and a 16.56 percent drop in student transportation costs. Debt service declined 83 percent – from $1,372,516 to $234,022 due to payoff of capital projects such as those incurred during improvements to Marshwood High School.
The meeting concluded with approval of the budget and a warrant article allowing the district to seek state, federal and other funds for “school purposes,” as long as pursuit of such grants does not require the expenditure of additional funds not appropriated in the budget.
If approved June 12, Eliot will be required to raise $7,703,678 and South Berwick $5,708,508 in support of the district budget.
MSAD 35 School Board Budget Passed at Budget Hearing
By Mark Pechenik May 17