First draft of 2013-14 budget finished

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Following a meeting between the administrators and the budget committee, a preliminary budget for the 2013-14 academic year has been prepared for the committee and other district officials to work on in order for the spending plan to be readied for the public’s vote in the spring.

    “(Finance Manager Teresa Scott) and I have put together a complete budget now,” Superintendent Alan Smith said during a Feb. 5 meeting of the RSU 68 school board. Smith said the budget committee would be meeting again a week later where he would be going over many of the line items in the spending plan.

    One area RSU 68 officials are still looking at is how to address a plan by Gov. Paul LePage to address a state budget shortfall. At the January meeting Smith said the district could face a $58,000 curtailment, which would have to come from somewhere in the budget.

    Board member Chris Maas said on Feb. 11 State Rep. Paul Davis (R-Sangerville) and State Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Ripley) were scheduled to attend a Dover-Foxcroft selectmen’s meeting to discuss the impact of reduced municipal sharing for communities and schools — the town of Dover-Foxcroft could see $330,000 less from the state under the proposed plan. “I think it would be great if the school board could stop by and give our piece,” Maas said, saying the $330,000 amount equals about a mil and a half in the town’s budget.

    In other business, Board Chair Rick Johnston said during the next school board meeting — scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at 6 p.m. at the SeDoMoCha School before the start of the regular monthly session — he would like to set aside 30 to 45 minutes for a public forum on bullying and the educational experience available for students in RSU 68. He said the time would enable the board and administrators to receive feedback on “what we are doing well and what we are not doing well.”

    “We will take no action as a board, but we will take comment from the public,” Johnston added, as input is sought from parents, teachers, students and others.

    Johnston also said later in the week he and Smith would be meeting with SAD 4 Board Chair George Nuite “for a general discussion on what we can do together down the road.” Johnston said, “There is no agenda for this, we are just going to see what George has to say.”

    “I hope this conversation goes a lot further and continues on a more regular basis,” Maas said.

    “He’s coming to explore and talk about their thoughts,” Smith said, as SAD 4 Superintendent Paul Stearns will be retiring later in the year and the Guilford-based district also faces many of the same concerns as RSU 68 such as declining student populations. “As far as I’m concerned the board’s open to talking to any district,” he added.

    SeDoMoCha Principal Julie Kimball reminded the board that the One Book, One School celebration will be taking place from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13. “We are looking forward to kicking off our ‘Charlotte’s Web’ work, so please come to the fair,” she said, as already the main lobby is decorated to resemble a barnyard such as a setting in the book.

    Over the last month elementary students and their families read “Charlotte’s Web” together. The shared reading experience, which now has taken place for three years at SeDoMoCha, is intended to help students improve listening comprehension, increase vocabulary, understand concepts, lengthen attention spans and create a positive attitude toward books. The Feb. 13 event will feature games, activities and food related to the novel to celebrate the conclusion of the 2013 One Book, One School program.

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