Budget committee reviews Edgecomb educational funding requests

School proposal is a 2.35 percent increase in municipal assessment
Posted:  Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 7:00am
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Local taxpayers are being asked to account for about one third of the proposed Edgecomb school budget increase. The school committee presented its proposed $2,869,172 budget for next year during the Feb. 8 Edgecomb budget committee meeting.

The school committee is requesting a 6.7 percent increase, which is $180,235. But the proposed budget would only result in a 2.53 percent increase in the municipal assessment. If approved, the municipal assessment would increase from $2,420,737 to $2,482,071.

All three school committee members joined the five-person budget committee on Feb. 8 in reviewing the proposed 2018-19 education budget for pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students.

Edgecomb School Committee Chairman Tom Abello explained the increased budget was due to fixed costs associated with state mandates such as student tuition payments for special education and grades 7-12. The town also saw its state subsidy reduced from $246,200 to $230,375.

An increase in school revenue also assisted in keeping the town assessment to a small increase. Edgecomb Eddy School welcomed 11 more tuition students resulting in $88,257 more in school revenue.

“The pre-K program is a good start for increasing our enrollment. This was important to the budget committee and town last year and it had a strong start in its first year  and it’s expected to grow in future years,” Abello said.

School revenues are forecasted to increase due to a “quadruppling” in tuition and income for special education and other related services, according to Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Interim Superintendent Bob Webster. “Income from other districts is expected to cover costs for counseling, physical and occupational therapy. The town assessment is also down due to carrying over school balance.”

The proposed school budget had major increases in two categories and decreases in two others. Regular instruction has a proposed 11 percent increase and special education is slated for a 10 percent hike. The school committee is proposing a $1,566,523 regular instruction budget, which is an $155,572 increase. The proposed special education budget is $504,786, which would be a $46,512 increase.

In regular education, the school committee is asking for an additional 1.5 teaching positions. This year, Edgecomb Eddy School began a pre-kindergarten program which has been the main factor in reaching an all-time record enrollment. The kindergarten through grade six school was built in 2002 and began with 82 students.The additional class has resulted in reversing a downward trend in enrollment. Last spring, school officials forecasted an enrollment of 59 students before establishing a pre-kindergarten program.

School administration and debt service saw double-digit decreases. The school committee proposed a school administration budget of $86,280, which is $16,807, or 16 percent, lower than this year’s. The committee is proposing a $234,265 debt service and other commitments budget, which is $57,332 or 20 percent lower than the current budget.

Following the meeting, Abello said there is no follow-up meeting scheduled with the budget committee.