$7.4M SAD 4 budget moved to July 14 at the polls
GUILFORD — A proposed $7,397,862 budget for the 2020-21 academic year was approved — with all 22 articles approved as written over 20 minutes with minimal discussion from the more than 30 registered voters present — during the annual district budget meeting on June 25 in the gymnasium at Piscataquis Community High School.
The near $7.4 million spending plan is now moved to a referendum in the SAD 4 towns of Abbot, Cambridge, Guilford, Parkman, Sangerville and Wellington on Tuesday, July 14 with residents of the half dozen communities voting either “yes” or “no” to make a district-wide decision on the 2021 budget.
The near total proposed for the 2020-21 academic year represents an increase of about $223,000 from the current year’s figure of $7,174,825.
The 2021 budget includes a combined local assessment of $3,863,917 for the half dozen communities, a figure that is down by approximately $94,000 from the current $3,957,885 assessment. Individual town assessments are based on valuation numbers.
“All but two of six participating towns are down and we don’t have a lot of control over that, it’s how towns are assessed,” Superintendent Kelly MacFadyen said.
The individual community figures are $744,108 for Abbot, a decrease of 3.23%; $247,990 for Cambridge, 3.05% less; $1,214,678 for Guilford, a decrease of 5.79%; $700,228 for Parkman, an increase of 4.15%; $774,724 for Sangerville, a 2.9% decrease; and $182,187 for Wellington, an increase of 4.96%.
MacFadyen was asked if SAD 4 saved money in busing costs with students engaged in remote learning from mid-March through early June. “We did save some money with transportation, we still were doing a run a day with food service,” she responded.
“So we decided as a budget committee to take $600,000 in fund balance forward rather than $500,000,” MacFadyen added an $100,000 increase from last year’s figure.
The superintendent said the near $802,000 student and staff support line of the budget “is up the most because we decided to add a social worker.” Last year’s figure was just under $633,000.
During a school board meeting last month MacFadyen said, “We have so many children in trauma and with social emotional issues. The social worker can work with children and their families.” She explained that district staff have been helping the best they can, but a social worker can perform these duties full time and assist the families with accessing resources such as food, housing and other social services.
The approximate $423,000 figure for school administration is down by more than $47,5000 with some position adjustments. MacFadyen said Deborah McPhail would be returning to full-time guidance at PCHS after having done guidance and been the assistant principal. Jessica Dunton, who will continue to serve as district technology director, will become the assistant principal in the building with grades 7-8 moving up from Piscataquis Community Elementary School.
“Seventh and eighth grade will return to the four rooms they were in before the move back,” MacFadyen said about the middle school wing of the building that housed that junior high students several years ago. She said the superintendent’s office will also be located in PCHS once again.
A literacy coach is being added to the district faculty for 2020-21 and the year after and grant monies will cover the new position. The funding is coming from federal CARES Act monies, which provide assistance for various forms of COVID-19 pandemic relief.
“We acknowledge that the remote learning has caused some of our students to have larger gaps in their learning and we acknowledge those gaps,” MacFadyen said. The literacy coach would work to help students make up lost ground from the spring
When asked the superintendent said the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) has presented three options for 2020-21 instruction in the state, a full return to the classroom, the continuation of remote learning or a combination of the first two options such as half the students attending school several days per week and being at home the other days and the other half having a reverse schedule of in school and at home learning. Social distancing protocols would be in place for school buildings and buses.
MacFadyen said SAD 4 officials are planning around all three options. “I am going to guess the third is probably going to be where we are going to be, some kind of hybrid,” she said. The superintendent said parents/guardians who do not feel comfortable sending their children to school will be able to still utilize full-time remote learning.
“I know the (MDOE) will tell us when to return to school and we will have some flexibility in how we return to school,” MacFadyen said.