GARDINER – Cutting funding to teams, sports programs and previously necessary jobs is how Maine School District 11 officials are trying to reduce increased expenditures in a new budget proposal.
The School Board Finance Committee started with a budget for next year that increased 9.7%, or just over $2 million. The committee then cut the increase by nearly half to the amount that was unanimously approved Wednesday night at the regular SAD 11 board meeting: a 5.21% increase over last year’s budget, totaling $28.22 million. The area serves Gardiner, West Gardiner, Randolph and Pittston, and residents of those towns still need to vote on the budget on Tuesday, June 14, before it is approved.
Proposed budget “includes no junior middle school physical education vacancies being filled, although not filled, we still meet national standards, looking to have no freshman or girls basketball team, no junior golf school, no junior university .boys ice hockey,” superintendent Pat Hopkins said at Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting.
To get the 5.06% increase in the budget targeted by the council, Hopkins said the cuts also included eliminating three teaching technician job openings in the special education department; deduct the time it takes a global language and science teacher at Gardiner Regional Middle School; And the abolition of the preparation program for the secondary stage for eighth-grade students.
As for sports programs at Gardiner Regional High School, the total rebate is $14,919 — both boys’ and girls’ freshman basketball programs cost $4,424, while the JV boys’ ice hockey program costs $4,672 The cost of the golf JV is $1,379.
When considering athletic cutbacks, officials have looked at the number of students participating in each sport in the past year or two, District Athletic Director Nate Stubert said on the school board’s finance committee March 29.
As for the hockey program, he said, since the district doesn’t have a co-op like other schools, there aren’t enough students to fill up the JV boys’ team. He said JV Golf is the same, but when it’s a boys and girls team, they can combine it into one. At the same meeting, he said, the freshmen hardly had a team this year, assuming the freshman could play on the JV team.
Stubbert could not be reached for additional comment Thursday.
Other budget adjustments were made to reduce it to the desired percentage, and included guidance counselor and social worker positions within primary schools. Since one of the counselors has retired and the other positions have become vacant, the district has decided to convert her to a social worker job.
So far, MSAD’s four elementary schools will each have 11 social workers, with three funded by the budget and one funded by emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools, but the guidance counselor program will not be available until students reach middle school. But building managers said there was “a need” for social workers, who each had about 40 students on their waiting list and had to move between schools.
The guidance counselor who will retire next year said that by excluding the initial guidance counselor, students will miss out on teaching students about kindness, respect, truth-telling, conflict resolution and other relevant lessons learned at elementary age. Board members Jim Lutherge and Tony Fett said they were concerned about losing the position.
“Management has talked about what the needs are and in what we discussed last time, there is a lot of value in a guidance counselor, and there are so many wonderful things that they do every day,” Hopkins said Tuesday. But now, we feel the biggest need is the social worker.”
Additionally, the Gardiner High School assistant principals and operations director’s work year was reduced from 226 to 220 days.
The half-time auxiliary job at Helen Thompson Elementary School was nearly eliminated but was added to the budget at the last minute at a cost of just over $43,000. Board member Matthew Marshall suggested before the budget vote on Wednesday that carryover funds be used for the position, but business manager Andrea Desch advised that there was not much funding available.
Marshall was adamant about not increasing the budget by more than 6%, because although he said he wouldn’t mind paying more taxes, he didn’t want to assume that the rest of the municipalities might like it, or be able to afford it as other costs go up. .
A major factor driving the budget higher, along with inflation, 8% higher health insurance rates and fuel prices, is the private education budget, which is up about 13%, or $540,974. The total cost of the special services is $4,876,095.
Elisha Morris, director of special services for the district, said at a financial meeting in March that despite the district’s strong special service programs, there are a few students who need additional services that the district does not have the resources to provide, so students have To be taken to another school to meet their needs.
The region is also having difficulty finding roles to fill within the Special Services division and has to outsource to other companies, which can be costly.
Regular instruction would cost the area $11,963,551, an increase of $265,846, or 2.27%. Staff and student support rose 6.17% to $2,664,176, or a difference of $154,765.
If approved by the municipalities, the budget requires an increase of $615,373 for local allotments. Communities will pay:
• Gardiner $4,036,329 – up 6.05% or $230,132.
• Pitstone $2,392,969 – an increase of 6.41%, or $144,171.
• Randolph, $1,032,621 – an increase of 5.74%, or $56.032.
• West Gardiner $3,403,051 – an increase of 5.75%, or $185,037.
Business Manager Desch said the proposed amount would increase the property tax bill, for example, by about $139 for a $200,000 property owner.
With the help of spending, schools are looking for students who need help