HODGDON, Maine — SAD 70 approved its annual budget for the 2021-2022 school year at the school board meeting held on April 27 at Hodgdon Middle/High School.
The district, which consists of the towns of Amity, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Linneus, Ludlow and New Limerick, are coming off a difficult year where the COVID-19 pandemic led to new adaptations of education and lower student enrollment. The new budget resulted in a $164,000 combined decrease to the towns in the district. The total budget for the new school year was around $6.5 million, compared to the previous year’s budget of $7.1 million.
The decrease came as a result of undergoing a zero-based budgeting process, in which all expenses must be justified during every new fiscal year period, according to SAD 70 superintendent Stephen Fitzpatirck.
“This year, as we always do, the budget committee’s target was a zero-based budget,” said Fitzpatrick. “We’re satisfied with the zero-based budget, the only difference would be to say that the [cost] impact of a zero-based budget might be up for some towns and down to others. “
Of all the towns in the district, only Haynesville saw an increase in its local share, with an increase of more than $4,000. The rest of the towns all saw decreases, with New Limerick decreasing the most, at more than $97,000.
Despite the overall lower budget, teacher salaries for middle and high school instructors also increased from the previous year, with salary increases of 3.9 and 2.8 percent, respectively. Although state participation in the school budget this year decreased by $150,000, federal aid money as a part of COVID-19 relief funds enabled an overall decrease in the budget, according to Fitzpatrick.
“By utilizing COVID infrastructure money, we have invested in buses and transportation facilities management, the Food and Nutrition Service Program, we have a new freezer,” Fitzpatrick said. “So we’re sitting in decent shape.”