SAD 1 residents approve nearly $31M budget

2 weeks ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Residents of SAD 1’s five communities approved a school budget of nearly $30 million on Tuesday.

About 40 residents joined school board members and administrators for the annual voting session in Presque Isle.

The $30,820,480 budget for the 2024-25 school year is $1.68 million more than last year’s figure, due mainly to salary and benefits, utility hikes and rising costs of goods and services, district business manager Lauren Kenneson said. As a result, tax appropriations will rise in the five communities the district serves: Castle Hill, Chapman, Mapleton, Presque Isle and Westfield. 

Tax levies will go up 4.5 percent in Castle Hill to $338,723, up $14,639 from the 2023-24 school year; 3.4 percent in Chapman to $384,102, up $12,764 from last year; 4.2 percent in Mapleton to $1,640,455, up $66,524; 2.5 percent in Presque Isle to $6,641,424, up $165,513; and 4.5 percent in Westfield to $393,215, up 4.5 percent.

All school programming will remain intact for the coming year, Superintendent Ben Greenlaw said. Six staff retirements and the elimination of a central office secretary position resulted in salary savings. An additional instructor will join the Presque Isle Tech Center, which will add an electrical program next year.

Greenlaw explained the budget schedule and voting procedure, which includes a validation referendum in June. There will be two questions: to approve the budget, and to consider whether the district should discontinue the June budget referendum.

The referendum draws low voter turnout and can cost $3,000 to $4,000, especially in an off-year election, he said.  

Presque Isle resident Frank Bemis was elected moderator. Voters approved every item with no question or discussion.

Salaries will rise 6 percent to $16,755,439, with benefits going up 6.6 percent to $7,119,918. 

Other budget items include the following: special education, up 6.1 percent to $4,397,119; facilities maintenance, up 6.5 percent to $4,146,607; transportation and buses, up 6.8 percent to $3,157,702; career and technical education, up 8.6 percent to $1,976,746;  student and staff technology support, up 16.3 percent to $1,047,300; and school administration, up 6.3 percent to $1,505,846.

By written ballot, residents voted 59-1 to raise and appropriate $3,621,746 in local funds, the amount that exceeds what the state provides for essential programs and services. The state contribution doesn’t adequately fund costs of instruction, support, transportation, maintenance and school lunch, according to the district budget document.

Residents of the five communities will vote on the budget referendum on Tuesday, June 11.