FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday, April 26 to send the district’s $39.99 million budget for the 2022-23 school year to voters on Tuesday, May 24 .
That day, voters will also decide on a $508,652 budget for Franklin County Adult Basic Education.
The nearly $40 million spending plan will fund schools serving Farmington, Chesterville, Wilton, Temple, Industry, New Sharon, Weld, New Vineyard, Starks and Vienna.
Superintendent Chris Elkington originally proposed a budget of $40.09 million, which was presented at the council’s April 12 meeting and community forum.
He said in a previous interview that the $1.23 million increase from 2021-22 was due to several factors, including inflation, rising cost of living and preparations to implement the district ten-year strategic plan.
The board and administration anticipate that the strategic plan will be finalized and approved by the end of the 2021-22 school year. The 2022-23 budget will allow the district to formally begin implementation in future budgets, Elkington had said.
Elkington explained Tuesday evening that multiple changes as well as corrections resulting in increases and decreases resulted in a -0.26% change to the budget ultimately approved by the board.
Significant factors decreasing the budget include a confirmed change in projected health insurance costs and adjusted orientation/social worker costs – resulting in a cumulative reduction of $234,000.
Elkington said he had confirmation from Anthem/Blue Cross that the projected increases would be around 5.74% – as opposed to the 10% increase he previously anticipated. This cut the budget by $160,000, he said.
The two significant factors that added costs to the budget were two bus rental payments left out of the original project and the addition of another teacher at Cape Cod Hill School – adding $108,000.
Elkington said another teacher was needed at Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon due to expected class sizes in the second and third grades. The district plans two second-grade classes of 18 students and one third-grade class of 27 students.
As it stands, another teacher will be brought in for another third-grade or combined second-third-grade class. Elkington told the board that will be decided when the number of pupils for the next school year is more certain.
The administration was already budgeting for a teaching post for a situation of this nature. However, Elkington told the council that this new teacher will be added alongside the post if needed.
In the end, $100,703 was cut from the last presentation to a final proposal.
The new budget approved by the Board results in an increase of $1.13 million over the 2021-2022 budget.
It will cost district ratepayers $13.78 million, an increase of $85,176 from 2021-22. The original proposal would have been an increase of $185,879 for taxpayers.
Voters will have the opportunity on May 24 to vote on the mandate items for the 11 spending categories at the annual budget meeting in the Mt. Blue Campus auditorium. The approved figures will then go before voters for a final vote in each of the 10 communes on Tuesday June 14.