Hodgdon School District administrators hold the line with only minor budget increases

2 weeks ago

HODGDON, Maine – Unlike other Aroostook County school districts, Hodgdon’s fiscal year 2024-2025 school budget does not place a heavy financial burden on towns or cut programs. 

The board-approved $7.25 million budget reflects an increase of $53,130 over last year with an additional local ask of $159,125, according to Superintendent Tyler Putnam. 

“This is the second year in a row that we have had an increase to the towns with previous years the district even returning money to the towns,” he said. “One position, originally an ESSER (COVID-19 funds) position created to assist the nurse, has been removed from the budget. All other positions remain.”

The Hodgdon School District includes the towns of Amity, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Ludlow, Linneus and New Limerick. 

Similar to other Maine districts, the Hodgdon School District state contribution was down due to decreased enrollment and increasing town valuations, Putnam said. Nonetheless, other districts like Houlton and Caribou are forced to cut positions and increase the local contribution significantly to balance their budgets. 

The RSU 29 budget of $16.4 million for fiscal year 2024-25 is up from last year’s $16 million to cover a $1.1 million shortfall.

To balance deficits, the Houlton school district budget includes increasing town contributions by $750,000, cutting nine positions, eliminating the French and Breaking Ground (planting and seed growing) programs and funding for several co-curricular activities. Caribou is cutting six positions and district officials propose a $2.4 million additional local share. 

Putnam credits the school board and central office staff with keeping the budget in check.

“They have done an excellent job in the past four years to use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief money wisely so they will not need to be absorbed into the local budget,” he said.

U.S. Department of Education ESSER money was distributed to address various school needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The three-year state valuation averages for the towns include Amity, $16.2 million; Haynesville, $13.9 million; Hodgdon, $70 million; Linneus, $75.1 million; Ludlow, $26.6 million; and New Limerick, $126.8 million.

The local required share is based on town valuations.

Amity’s required contribution is $107,244 and the additional local is $3,696; Haynesville required is $91,907 and additional is $621; Hodgdon requires, $463,620, additional $28,347; Linneus required $496,610, additional $26,697; Ludlow required $175,761, additional $9,559 and New Limerick required, $599,340, additional $90,205.

Hodgdon School District extracurricular and co-curricular programs in athletics and music have not been affected by the budget.

“Similar to many school districts, we try to balance student needs with the increase in cost for district services, so we can put forth a fiscally responsible budget for everyone,” Putnam said. 

Residents will vote on the budget at the District Budget Meeting at 6 p.m., May 23 at Hodgdon High School.

HODGDON, Maine — May 13, 2024 — Hodgdon School District Superintendent Tyler Putnam awarding Cameron Schools his adult education diploma. Schools stopped in to show Putnam his accomplishment because Putnam was his fifth-grade teacher. (Credit: Hodgdon School District)