Budget Update #9 – RSU #38 Annual Meeting, May 18, 2016

To view the video of the RSU Annual Meeting, as well as all supporting materials, please go to www.maranacook.org/budget

“Promoting student success for all while maintaining fiscal responsibility”

The Annual District Budget Meeting was held on May 18, 2016. While the number of community members in attendance was small, clearly there was a commitment to the RSU #38 mission statement, “a caring school community dedicated to excellence” and at several times during the meeting citizens referred to this mission.

Terri Watson, RSU #38 School Board Chair presented a history of the FY17 budget development process ending with the Board adoption, on April 13 of an expenditure budget of $16,488,320, a 3.26% increase over the FY16 budget. She reported on the original budget proposal of $16,966,191 and the elimination of items such as newly proposed after school activities at the middle school, 2 (out of 4) SmartBoards, 1 replacement bus, a portion of the proposed supply budget at the high school, several proposed maintenance projects, and increased Health Center support at the middle school.

I presented information on the history of state subsidies, including our loss of $292,404 for FY17. The FY17 subsidy represents the lowest amount of state subsidy received by RSU #38 since well before 2001. Next I shared information on the history of the expenditure budget followed by a report on enrollment trends in RSU #38. The expenditure budget hit a high in FY07 and continued to decrease until the FY12 budget. Then in FY15 there was a slight decrease with the freezing of salaries and cutting several positions. Recently, however, new state laws regarding proficiency-based diplomas have resulted in the need for more supports for our students, and the need for several major roof repairs have had a significant impact on the FY17 expenditure budget, although this budget is still not as high as the FY07 budget. While some citizens might argue that a reduction in enrollment should result in a reduction in the budget, the reality is that the decrease of 23 students from October 1, 2015 to October 1, 2016 represents students from PreK to grade 12, slightly less than an average of 2 students per grade level. If these students were in the same class it might be possible to eliminate a position. However, the student loss is spread over 14 grade levels and 6 schools, so does not significantly impact teaching positions at any school or level.

Warrant articles (see the Annual Report) 2 through 12 are expenditure articles. An explanation of each was reviewed at the meeting and is available in the report. Each article passed unanimously at the May 18 meeting. Articles 13 through 16 are revenue articles and were also reviewed. Articles 13 through 15 were unanimously approved.

After the reading of Article 16, a motion was made by a citizen in attendance to increase the article from $3,628,706 to $3,673,706, an increase of $45,000, for the purpose of replacing the revenue acquired through student participation fees for sports and extra-curricular activities. The motion was seconded and there was much discussion on the amended amount ranging from concern for students who could not afford to pay the fees and would not be able to participate, to concern for the careful work the RSU #38 School Board had done in preparing what they believed to be a fiscally responsible budget. A paper ballot vote on the amendment resulted in 34 votes in favor of the amendment and 33 opposed. The amendment passed. The now amended Warrant Article 16 was voted on by paper ballot as required by law, and the amended article was approved. Article 17, the summary expenditure article, Article 18, the Adult and Community Education article, and Article 19, authorizing the district to expend other revenue from state, federal, local, and private sources were all approved unanimously.

I would like to thank everyone who attended the Annual Meeting, and those citizens who participated with concerns and comments. I heard several comments after the meeting that “this is the way the meeting should be, with the voice of the community prevailing.” Again, many thanks to those who attended this important meeting.

The budget referendum will take place at town voting locations on June 14, 2016. I urge all citizens of RSU #38 to come out to vote.

Sincerely,

Donna H. Wolfrom, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools