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SAD 70 board approves $6.7 million budget

HODGDON, Maine — A $6.7 million spending plan for SAD 70 will now make its way to voters in the six communities that comprise the school district.

The SAD 70 school board unanimously approved the 2022-23 fiscal year budget in the amount of $6,761,751 during Monday night’s meeting. The budget represents an increase of $194,196 over last year’s spending plan.

Residents will have their opportunity to ask questions and vote on the school’s spending plan at the district budget meeting slated for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Hodgdon High School. The budget will then be on the June primary ballot in the district.

SAD 70 will receive $3,571,919 in state subsidy, which is an increase of $183,096. In order to receive those funds, the district must provide $1,700,252 for its required local share.

Because the district spends more than what the state says it should be for Essential Programs and Services (EPS), the district must also come up with an extra $571,327 from taxpayers in the form of an additional local requirement.

“The budget is an estimate predicated on what the potential exists for expenditures,” SAD 70 Superintendent Stephen Fitzpatrick said. “In today’s day and age, we know anything above a flat-funded budget is a challenge for our small towns.”

So how the budget will affect taxpayers in the communities that make up SAD 70 varies. A breakdown of the increase for each community is as follows: Amity, $137,296 (an increase of $3,215); Haynesville, $116,754 (up $8,036); Hodgdon, $567,158 (up $27,869); Linneus, $629,386 (up $22,464); Ludlow, $219,613 (up $7,665); and New Limerick, $631,238 (up $13,776).

To help reduce the tax burden, the district plans to use $375,000 from its undesignated fund balance. Last year, the district used $300,000 from its surplus account for similar purposes.

Fitzpatrick said the elevated budget was due to collective bargaining increases for staff, as well as the rising cost of fuel and electricity that most residents are also facing.

The only discussion on the budget came from board member Clarissa Porter who asked if the new spending package included funds for a full-time special education director. The district has shared a special education director with neighboring RSU 29 for the past two years.

Porter said it was her desire to see that position restored to full time for the district, rather than continue sharing the position with neighboring RSU 29.

“Last year, we funded a full-time special education director, but never hired one,” Porter said. “We need someone here full time in our buildings.”

The 2022-23 budget does include funding for a full-time position, but any decision to hire such a person will likely wait until the district’s new superintendent — Tyler Putnam — comes on board July 1, said Board chairman Ron Silliboy. Fitzpatrick is retiring at the end of the current school year.

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