Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District approved an $11,057,515 budget May 3. The decision followed several weeks of budget reviews which cut about $300,000 from the original draft, $11,366,816. In efforts to keep both towns' tax commitments to 0%, the committee allocated $1,025,000 from unassigned funds, $400,000 more than the 2021-2022 budget and $200,000 more than the original draft. The annual budget meeting is at 6 p.m. June 15 in the Boothbay Region Elementary School gym.
The CSD committee revisited its approval for a $62,000 adult education program at the request of member Bruce MacDonald. MacDonald supported the second of three proposals presented by Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Adult Education Director Kayla Sikora. The first proposal would keep spending the same, about $30,000 for 40 contact hours per school year; the second, $72,950, 140 contact hours; the third, about $120,000, full school year or 180 contact hours.
MacDonald said Sikora's third proposal seemed too expensive, but continuing current funding would be far too little.
“Here on this peninsula, we have very few if any options for formal education beyond high school … unless we're talking about online stuff. But in terms of personal instruction for anything or to recover from life events like deciding to drop out … for a lot of adults living here, there are no options … I think we've gone pretty low in terms of our investment and this (second proposal) would bring it up to a point where we can see whether or not there is interest in the community for a more robust adult ed program.”
Other members felt since $62,000 is nearly double the investment of previous years, it would provide a robust enough pilot program to engage the public and determine if such a program has community interest and buy-in. Member John Bertolet, a former adult ed instructor, said doubling on investment should produce results, based on past programs.
Vice Chair Peggy Splaine said the board is not saying “no” by not opting for one of Sikora’s proposals, but is saying “yes” by making a significant investment relative to previous years. Splaine also acknowledged Sikora's fear that the CSD may not find someone to fill her job without investing enough into the program. In that case, AOS 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler can go back to the board if he cannot hire someone to build a program without more investment, she said.
“Next year if we double it, maybe that means we go even harder on whatever the suggestion is,” Splaine said. “(Voters) may say, 'Hey, we want to give you more money.' That can happen, they can vote that (at the meeting).”
Said Chair Stephanie Hawke, “I mean, if there's a big turnout and this is what's wanted, triple it if that's what's needed.”
Boothbay Region High School Principal Tricia Campbell said while adult education traditionally focused on enrichment courses and obtaining a diploma, it is now more of a tool for students and families to reconnect to their local schools, traditional education and alternative educational pathways and to access professional opportunities.
“What's unique about the Boothbay region is that the school is central to everything in this community and I think being able to grow our adult education program by having someone who is available … down here in the harbor, we may be able to increase our ability to reach out to those individuals … So, I look to Kayla as an expert. She has grown adult education programs and she presented us with three different examples and she's investigated the finances involved with that. So, as a member of the Boothbay Harbor community, the difference of $10,000, I am absolutely willing to invest in seeing if that funding can get us those opportunities for those families.”
MacDonald moved to approve Sikora’s second proposal, $72,950. No one seconded it. The committee then approved the original $62,000 passed at the last meeting.
Transportation and Security Director Kyle Canada suggested at prior meetings the CSD pay off its two remaining bus loans from 2021-2022's remaining funds. Since the interest on the larger loan, $57,786.16, has already been paid off, the committee decided to continue scheduled payments. However, interest on the smaller loan, $35,557.35, is about $3,000, so the committee approved its payment in full.