New SAD 4 budget will be brought to voters

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GUILFORD — A day after a proposed $6,890,304 budget for the 2017-18 school year was voted down 297-213 across the six district communities, the SAD 4 school board met on June 14 at Piscataquis Community Elementary School to start the process to bring another spending plan forward.

The $6,890,304 budget represented 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 from May to November of 2016. The local share of the budget turned down at the polls totaled just under $4,102,800, or a near $430,000 increase with each town’s share — based on state valuation and pupil counts — going up from the year before.

The school board’s budget committee was scheduled to meet on Tuesday, June 20 to start its work on the next version of the 2017-18 financial package. Once a budget has been prepared the spending plan will be brought to the full board and the directors will then vote on these finances to be moved to another district budget meeting and ensuing referendum. August was mentioned as a possibility for the next district budget meeting and referendum.

Board member Danielle Gray wondered if the next ballot could have the budget total included.

“We would love to but the the law tells us exactly what we need,” SAD 4 Finance Director Jennifer Soper said. “The ballots cannot contain the amount,” she said as the question asks residents if the budget for the 2017-18 school year that was approved at the previous district budget meeting shall be adopted.

“The vote did not pass, it needs to be tallied and sent out,” Board Chair Niki Fortier said as the school board approved the computation and declaration of votes to be entered into the SAD 4 records and sent to each town clerk within the district.

The $6,890,304 budget was voted down in Abbot by a 54-31 count, via a 56-13 result in Cambridge, 69-32 in Parkman and 58-54 in Sangerville. In Guilford the spending plan was approved 70-48 and Wellington residents OKed the finances by one vote at 13-12.

SAD 4 representatives 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 by SAD 4 to AOS 94 to enter into a one-year cost sharing agreement.

The two school units may be able to share central administration, business office, special education and transportation services in the 2018-19 academic year — an agreement between SAD 4 and AOS 94 for 2017-18 could not be readied by the July 1 deadline. Under the AOS structure SAD 4 would keep its own school board and some of these directors would also serve on an AOS board.

With Superintendent Ann Kirkpatrick leaving SAD 4 after four years as of July 1 to become to become principal of the Vinalhaven School, the school board had talked about having an interim superintendent in 2017-18 as discussions with AOS 94 continue. District officials had mentioned hiring an interim superintendent to work three days a week.

Following a 30-minute executive session, Fortier was authorized to enter into an agreement with an interim superintendent based on terms discussed during the session. Sitting in on the session with the school board was Ray Freve, who has served as an interim administrator in a number of Maine school districts, including RSU 19 in the Newport area before the current academic year.

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