Media Archive

SAD 41 approves $6.4 million budget for 2002-03

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 26, June 26, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

MILO Bare bones is what SAD 41 Superintendent David Walker calls the 2002-03 school budget, finalized at the annual budget meeting on June 12.

With final tallies reaching $6.4 million, next year's school budget represents a 1.3 percent increase over current spending levels.

"Major areas that resulted in any increase at all were health insurance costs and special education costs," explained Walker, who said that just providing mandated services for an increased number of special education students caused an increase of about 13 percent.

Health insurance costs also climbed between 14 and 16 percent for all employees, he said.

Questions were raised by various board members at the annual meeting about just what residents could expect to see in the 2002-03 budget. Walker explained that keeping the increase manageable for SAD 41 towns meant no extra frills.

"It's pretty much a status quo, bare bones budget," he said. "We have no additional programs for students. We would still very much like to put elementary music back in our program for grades K through 5, and we would very much like to have a remedial reading and math teacher for grades 6 through 8. Those are two things that are very high on our priority list, but we weren't able to fund them this year."

He said balancing the budget also required laying off at least one teacher.

"This budget reflects fewer teachers," he said. "We have one less elementary school teacher that we had to cut to stay within our spending plan."

One element that is included in the budget is building maintenance. "We didn't increase the monies we budgeted, but there were questions about what's on the list to be done this year," he said. "We have more work to do on the boilers at the high school. The boiler at Milo Elementary is over 40 years old, and so there's budgeted monies to replace that boiler."

Although the amount spent on maintenance is less than last year, it is more than has been spent in previous years.

"Sort of an industry standard is that you should be budgeting 2 percent on your buildings' value back into the buildings each year," he explained. "We have about $15 million worth of buildings, so we should be budgeting about $300,000 each year, just to stay at status quo.Next year, we'll be budgeting about $200,000 for building maintenance, so we're still not at that industry standard, but we're closer than we were in past years, (and) that's not for any reason other than necessity."

Walker did say that funds for some roof and paving repairs within the district were included.

Some of what the district has for funding next year won't be decided until legislators sort out the state budget shortfall, which, according to most reports, is still a few months away.

"Since this (the SAD 41) budget was passed, the governor has come back and it looks like we're going to lose a bit of our state assistance in general purpose aid reduction," Walker said. "So the board of directors will need to revisit this budget in order to live with whatever the Legislature decides to do with that."

Walker said the district will begin immediately to put together contingency plans if the state cuts its school funding further.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.