$6.89M to be brought to SAD 4 district budget meeting

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GUILFORD — After a pair of votes, a proposed $6,890,304 budget for the 2017-18 school year was approved by a vote of 10-5 by the directors during a May 25 school board meeting at Piscataquis Community Elementary School (PCES).

The board also scheduled the district budget meeting for Thursday, June 8 at 7 p.m. at PCES, with an information session to start the evening at 6 p.m. The figure approved at the district budget will be moved to a referendum on Tuesday, June 13 in the SAD 4 towns of Abbot, Cambridge, Guilford, Parkman, Sangerville and Wellington. Full financial information is available at

The $6,890,303 budget represents an approximate $11,300 increase from the current academic year — the $6,879,013 budget for 2016-17 was the fourth brought to SAD 4 citizens.

The local share of the spending plan totals just under $4,102,800, or a near $430,000 increase. This results in a rise in assessments for each town with Abbot’s share up by $77,369 to $787,244; Cambridge’s up $29,238 to $262,026; Guilford’s up $146,720 to $1,353,829; Parkman’s up $82,460 to $636,291; Sangerville’s up $91,861 to $866,490; and Wellington’s up $2,338 to $196,915.

“At this point, this is the budget,” Finance Director Jennifer Soper said as the spending plan was developed by district administrators and the school board’s budget committee. “It is up $429,986 for the taxpayers from last year, but we started this year with an almost $800,000 deficit,” she said, as the state allocation was down by over $750,600 from 2016-17.

A vote on the $6.89 budget featured seven hands for “yes” and seven for “no” with one abstention, and by calculating the weighted vote of the spending plan the “no” votes prevailed 386-373.

After a motion to revisit was approved — via a 13-2 count — a proposal was made to amend the budget by using $215,000 from fund balance to cut the proposed increase in the local assessment by about half.

Board member Corey Hill said he made the proposal to help avoid cutting any programs for students and show the directors were concerned about the local assessment. He said if the $215,000 was being brought forward then the budget may stand a better chance of passing.

The amendment was voted down 11-3 with one abstention.

The original motion for a 2018 fiscal year budget of $6,890,304 with a local assessment of $4,102,798 was voted on again, and the second time the figures passed by a count of 10 votes to five.

Board Chair Niki Fortier said SAD 4 and officials from AOS 94 — which includes the Dexter-based SAD 46 and the towns of Athens and Harmony — have been looking into ways to save money and share resources in both the long-term and more immediate future. The two school units are in the midst of the application process for an integrated, consolidated grade 9-16 educational facility, and a written request had been sent to AOS 94 to enter into a one-year cost sharing agreement.

“The reason we are not going with the AOS at this point is because of the timeframe and budgets,” Fortier said. She said the AOS 94 budget has already been approved and the SAD 46 directors have their 2017-18 financing package already being moved forward to a district budget meeting on June 8.

“At this point it was deemed not prudent to move forward,” Fortier said. She said talks with AOS 94 would likely resume at the start of the next academic year.

During the session the school board rescinded a motion made from a meeting earlier in the month adjusting a pair of administrative positions for next year. Under the proposal the current assistant principal/activities coordinator between the PCES and Piscataquis Community Secondary School (PCSS) would have been changed to an assistant principal/athletic director position for K-8 only, and the PCSS principal job would have become principal and athletic director for grades for 9-12.

“My big reason for wanting this change is the more I thought about it after the other meeting is (Superintendent Ann Kirkpatrick) is not going to be here in July,” Fortier said.

With Kirkpatrick departing to become principal of the Vinalhaven School as of July 1 an interim superintendent will be coming to SAD 4. “That would be their decision to align their administrative system however they see fit,” Fortier said. “At this point I don’t feel we should continue with this setup we approved at the last meeting.”

When asked, Fortier said the two positions would stay the same as an assistant principal/activities coordinator for PCES and PCSS and principal of the secondary school. Any changes to the jobs would be subject to a school board vote.

In other business, the board heard from grade 6 teacher Grace McGeehan about a Friends of Acadia grant she received to fund the construction of an outdoor classroom.

“It’s an educational space that brings learning to life by bringing the learning outside,” McGeehan said, showing a slideshow of her students having constructed an Egyptian pyramid out of snow.

“This is fully funded through Friends of Acadia,” she said as the organization has awarded $5,000 for the outdoor classroom, with the possibility of $2,500 more in each of the ensuing three years. T

“Fifth- and sixth-grade students will be designing the layout of the outdoor classroom,” McGeehan said.

The learning space will be located on a forthcoming trail between the two schools. She said the trail is being built with the help of the community.

“We are going to have a volunteer day this summer, probably the weekend after school ends,” McGeehan said.

The school board authorized PCSS Principal John Keane to work with Dexter Regional High School Principal Stephen Bell on cooperative agreement to enable students from PCSS to play football at Dexter for the upcoming season.

“In our conversations with Dexter the two high school school principals talked about ways to join forces,” Kirkpatrick said. She said Keane started a flag football program at PCSS several years ago and “kids love to play football so why not find a way to let them play football?”

She said Dexter would continue to own the program. “It would be their field, their uniform, their coaches,” as the roster could include players from PCSS.

Under revised guidelines from the Maine Principal’s Association, cooperative teams are no longer classified under the combined enrollment of both schools but instead the figure for the team’s main institution has the number of players from the other school added to it. The amount of PCSS students playing for the Tiger football team would be added to Dexter’s total enrollment and this combined figure would most likely still be well under the cutoff for the Tiger squad to remain in Class D North and continue to face its familiar rivals on the schedule.

A figure of $3,000 to cover transportation was mentioned as the expense for PCSS students to play football in Dexter. “I do know the $3,000 is just transportation costs and there are a couple of ways we can take care of that cost,” Board Vice Chair Cindy Hoak said as these monies could be fundraised.

“Mr. Keane and Mr. Bell are going to work toward that so it will allow those kids to play,” Kirkpatrick said.

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