SAD 44 prepares for another difficult budget year
In anticipation of an upcoming budget year even tougher than the last one, SAD 44 budgeteers are starting work early on FY’12.
Superintendent Dave Murphy told the School Board Monday that he expects a loss in state and federal aid of between $550,000 and $600,000. The lion’s share of that — $410,000 — had come to the district this year as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will not be offered for next year.
The district’s property valuations will likely account for much of the remaining loss, Murphy said. Because of the relatively high valuation compared to other parts of the state, SAD 44 is approaching the level of “minimum receivership.” Such a designation means the district would only receive aid for its debt service and for special-education costs.
The overall FY’11 budget was $9.1 million, down $478,000 from the previous year.
Murphy also said that student enrollment is down by about 20 this year, which will also translate into less aid money. And, he said, enrollment at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico is up about 100 percent, and SAD 44 will accordingly pay a greater share of that budget.
On another budget-related issue, the district’s Facilities Committee is looking at an offer from the Norway Savings Bank to consider relocating the SAD 44 Central Office to that building. In recent years district officials have been discussing closing the Ethel Bisbee Building, where the office is currently located, to save money.
“The Facilities Committee toured the space last month but has not made any decisions on recommendations at this point,” Murphy said Tuesday.
Telstar energy study approved
Directors approved the spending of $10,000 in ARRA funds for a complete energy audit of the Telstar complex and an estimate of the cost to improve the 40-year-old building's energy efficiency. An ad hoc committee comprised of directors, selectmen and citizens last year targeted such a project as a priority in facilities planning.
For the past five years SAD 44 has been putting aside funds, with voter approval, toward future capital improvement projects.
If the audit produces a good estimate for the upgrades, Murphy said, the project might go to a referendum vote next June.
More traffic signs at Telstar
Additional signage and lights on Route 26, emphasizing the 15 mile-per-hour speed limit at either end of the school day near Telstar High School, are expected to be in place soon, Murphy said.
“This is a significant step forward for safety,” he said.
Currently, one sign and set of flashing lights reminds drivers of the limit during the times students and buses come and go from the school complex.
More signage and a second flashing light will be added, Murphy said.
He said district staff and the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department have been working with the Maine Department of Transportation over the past couple of months on the arrangement.