The Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District school committee discussed eight possible cuts to the budget draft April 10. The potential $461,300 in savings would bring the budget down to a 3-4% increase over last year's budget – a goal set during the last joint meeting between the committee and board of trustees.
Cutting the curriculum coordinator would save about $93,700; Boothbay Region High School educational technician, $21,600; Boothbay Region Elementary School educational technician III, $25,000; van purchase, $21,000; third grade teacher, $90,000; consumer science and arts teacher, $65,000; one physical education teacher, $87,000; and technology integrator, $58,000. Committee chair Larry Colcord pointed out that all jobs being considered for cuts are vacant and that the committee is not necessarily aiming to cut everything, but working to see where cuts could come from if deemed necessary.
Nearly the entire committee spoke to the difficulty of eliminating the curriculum coordinator job. Member Peggy Splaine said the committee went over the decision thoroughly.
“We've heard you. We don't want you to feel like we haven't heard you,” said Splaine. “(It) is an important position … We just want to make the fiscally responsible decision this year and that's not to go forward with that decision this year.”
Three potential cuts were abandoned after some discussion: the van purchase, a third grade teaching job, and the technology integrator. Committee members agreed that by getting a van and potentially selling the CSD's small white bus, there will be short and long term savings especially because the driver does not need a CDL license. BRES Principal Mark Tess and Assistant Principal Tricia Campbell said students of BRES and potentially BRHS would be adversely affected by the required shuffling of teachers' jobs to fill the gap.
The committee asked Tess and BRHS Principal Dan Welch to come to the next meeting with plans based on potential cuts to the consumer science and arts teacher and PE teacher jobs.
Along with Tess and Campbell, PE teacher Lauren Brown strongly advised the committee to fill the job, being vacated by Tim Rice.
Said Brown, “… We have recess, but it's pretty limited, pretty quick for some of our grades … Our kids are sedentary and there's so much research and data out there about the benefits of kids being physically active … It's not so much about obesity, it's about taking care of them emotionally. Moving is huge.”
Several members of the public continued to express concern about seeing the Gifted and Talented teacher’s salary split between the program and regular teaching staff. Many took this to mean the program is being cut, but Colcord reminded everyone the program will remain and the teacher, Emily Higgins, will not get a pay cut.
Boothbay Harbor resident Miri Lyons said she is worried her kindergartener, who she believes is a perfect fit for the program, will not be able to access it if the teacher is spread beyond the program and finds her time competing with other classes.
Trustees member Kevin Anthony said it does not matter if the teacher’s broadened responsibilities do not clash, but if the CSD wants to encourage more families to send their children to BRES and BRHS, it would be attractive to showcase a Gifted and Talented teacher who oversees the program full time.
Higgins said if she were to teach a science class, it would likely take one-sixth of her time. If she were to spend some of that class time with students also in Gifted and Talented, it would be around 10% of her time.
Said Higgins, “You can have somebody be a full-time gifted and talented teacher in the state of Maine and he or she can spend 10% of her time doing things with students that are not identified as gifted.”
The committee is scheduled to further discuss and approve a final version of the budget at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 24.
This article has been updated from its original posting.