2018-03-07 / Front Page

Local share increase despite school budget decrease

By Dee Menear Irregular Staff Writer

KINGFIELD — MSAD #58 Superintendent Susan Pratt opened the School Board Budget Presentation by saying, “This was clearly one of the most difficult budgets I have ever had to put together. This year we lost $235,000 in state funding.” The draft budget was presented to directors, and district selectmen and residents Thursday, March 3 at Kingfield Elementary School.

Declining enrollment was also a contributing factor in drafting the proposal. Pratt told the board this year’s enrollment was down by about 30 students.

“We have declining enrollment and we need to respond to that. It’s everywhere.

It’s not just in the four towns, it’s across the region. It should be predictable for folks. There is not a lot of employment in Franklin County,” Pratt stated. Young families move around and they are not moving to rural parts of the state.

Pratt pointed out several goals were kept in mind while building the draft budget, including providing for student needs, looking for efficiency, responding to declining enrollment and state funding, and continuing work on facilities improvements.

The proposed $9.2 million budget reflects a decrease of $205,000 — just over two percent more than the current budget. Several cuts have been made to the proposed budget that address declining enrollment and funding. Despite the decrease, the total local share shows an increase of nearly seven percent.As presented, town assessments are: Avon $32,869, an increase of 7.79 percent; Kingfield $58,776, an increase of 4.21 percent; Phillips $69,650, an increase of 8.16 percent; and Strong $73,724, an increase of 8.4 percent.

More than 63 percent of the budget is allocated to salaries and benefits of teachers, staff and administrators. Pratt said with a budget focused on people, unfortunately people would be affected by the reduction.

Both Kingfield and Phillips schools will have one less teacher and the Pre-K program will moved to a single, centralized school. Funding for a second bus and work truck has been eliminated. Several other support positions have also been reduced or eliminated.

Other cuts include the middle school and high school Alpine Program, improvements at each of the three district elementary schools, and facilities and technology purchases.

Pratt urged those present to contact their representatives regarding changes to the funding formula, which negatively impacts rural schools. “It wouldn’t hurt every person in this room to call your legislator,” she said.

Directors will meet March 8 and 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Phillips Elementary School for budget deliberations. Ultimately, voters will decide the budget at the District Budget Meeting, which is scheduled for May 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Mt. Abram High School.

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