Gilead school budget, state aid to decline
Most of the discussion at Saturday’s Gilead town meeting focused on a topic that wasn’t even on the warrant – the school budget.
Two dozen residents turned out for Saturday’s annual meeting and added $5,000 to the Fire Department budget, but otherwise passed as recommended the other articles.
SAD 44 Supt. Dave Murphy attended to explain as best he could an anticipated budget for which there are not yet solid state aid figures.
“It’s an incomplete picture,” he said.
While the school budget is expected to drop to about $261,000 from last year’s $290,000, state aid is expected to decline also, to around $19,000 from $60,000. The drop in state aid is likely attributable to an increase in town valuation and a drop in student enrollment, he said. The student population is estimated to be in the low 30s for next year.
He also said there may be more expenses pushed on to towns by the state, such as a share in the cost of teacher retirement.
Last year the town raised $229,931 toward the school budget. This year an estimated $239,245 would need to be raised to qualify for the $19,000 from the state, said Murphy.
He said there should be some carryover funds from the current school year budget that can be used next year.
The school budget will be voted on at a separate meeting later.
Voters approved an additional $5,000 for the Fire Department budget over the $16,000 recommended by selectmen. Some funds were also carried forward from last year.
Newly-appointed Chief Randy Grondin of Bethel requested the additional $5,000 to update gear and equipment for firefighters.
Grondin officially took over the position Monday, replacing Ken Cole, who served 26 years. Gilead firefighters expressed their appreciation for the years he gave to the town.
In election of town officials, Selectman Steve McLain was returned to office unopposed for three years. Ann Choquette and Nikki Petillo were also re-elected to the School Committee unopposed for three- and one-year terms, respectively.
With the change to the Fire Department budget, the total municipal is now $213,415, according to Town Clerk Lin Chapman. That’s down $66,358 from last year.
The 38-minute meeting was moderated by Paul Handlen.