SAD 35 board to submit $29M budget
Despite increase, $584K will go back to taxpayers if OK’d
By Mark Pechenik
May 09, 2014 2:00 AM
The MSAD 35 board of directors on Wednesday agreed to submit a fiscal year 2015 budget of slightly more than $29 million for a vote at its May 28 budget meeting.
If approved at the budget meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in Marshwood High School’s auditorium theater, the $29,273,623 requested budget will be submitted for voter approval at the June 10 budget referendum. The budget includes many of the proposed programs considered by the board thanks to a surplus, which was realized through $150,000 in reduced health insurance costs and an extra $63,000 in Title 1 funding.
The surplus translates into $10,000 per district school in the upcoming budget. The money will support a study and organizational skills program for Grades 4, 5 and 9, academic acceleration academies for Grades 4 and 5, and an after-school homework program and outdoor leadership development program at Marshwood High School.
The surplus will also fund a two-week summer academic enrichment program and a four-week summer learning program at Marshwood Middle School, enrichment activities and an after-school math enrichment program at the Great Works School, and after-school enrichment activities at Eliot Elementary and Central Elementary schools.
Proposed budget highlights include an additional $187,000 to replace two boilers at Great Works School. The funding is necessary, according to Superintendent Mary Nash, due to the likelihood of the 25-year-old boilers failing “next winter.”
District faculty experiencing computer crashes led the board to recommend $68,400 for the purchase of 180 staff computers. The amount is in addition to $50,000 budgeted for new student laptop computers.
The purchase of six new school buses is recommended at a cost of $103,000 for a five-year lease/purchase plan. An aging bus fleet and excessive repair costs, amounting to $25,000 for this year, were cited as reasons for this expense.
Another budget highlight concerns $46,500 for a financial software services contract to replace the antiquated DOS software that the district has, until recently, used.
Even with these proposed expenditures, Nash emphasized that $584,499 will be returned to taxpayers from the budget. This will come in the form of $374,499 in state funding for teacher pension costs, which arrived too late last year to be included in the current budget, and an anticipated $210,000 in the district’s year end surplus. Savings will also be realized through the elimination of two teacher and 3.5 education technician positions.
The budget represents a 4.94 percent increase versus the 5.6 percent increase for the current year. This would mean an increase of $430,286 — from $8,192,600.29 to $8,622,886.49 — for Eliot and $319,848 for South Berwick — from $7,005,940.12 to $7,325,788.51.
“MSAD 35 continues to offer high-quality educational programming for its students,” Nash said. “It does so efficiently with lower per pupil costs than other neighboring districts and lower costs per pupil than the state’s costs.”