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Lamoine Budget Committee

Minutes of April 7, 2008 (Draft, subject to revision)

Chairman Henry Ashmore called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM

Present were: Budget Committee members Reginald McDevitt, Robin Veysey, Henry Ashmore, Hubene Brodie, Joseph Young Jr.; Secretary Stu Marckoon, School Committee Members Christina Maguire-Harding, Kathleen Rybarz, Nancy Sargent, Faith Perkins; Union 92 Superintendent Jim Boothby , Union 92 Business Manager David Bridgham, Lamoine School Prinicpal Val Perkins, Selectmen Cynthia Donaldson, Jo Cooper, Brett Jones, and Assistant Town Clerk Kathleen DeFusco

Minutes of February 11, 2008 Reggie moved to approve the minutes of February 11, 2008 as written. Hubene 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

School Budget School Committee chair Faith Perkins reported the budget situation has gotten a lot worse, and that was not new information. Henry said the situation was not the school committee's fault.

Union 92 Business Manager David Bridgham said the written material shows the budget changes. He said there are increased costs for the current fiscal year which the school department will ask the town meeting to appropriate from the balance forward. He said that includes a deficit in high school tuition and special education. He said that will mean there is no balance forward to put toward the 2008/09 budget.

Mr. Bridgham said they received the final state subsidy information earlier in the day. Henry asked if that differed from the March 3rd estimates. Mr. Bridgham answered that it was a little different. He said the figure is from the enacted state budget and for the first time is a real number. He said that figure represents a loss of approximately $250,000 for the next fiscal year. He said Lamoine will likely be a minimum receiver of state education aid by 2009/10. He said that really hurts the bottom line. Robin asked how much lower it would go. Mr. Bridgham said based on this year's calculations, the amount received would be $108,000 as a minimum receiver. There was a short discussion on General Purpose Aid, Essential Programs and Services and Special Education funding.

Mr. Bridgham said the school committee made several cuts on the expenditure side of the budget, including elimination of $2,500 for the school board stipends. He said the teacher salaries and benefits are set in the new contract, and that had very little impact on the latest budget proposal. He said the library position has been cut to 1-day per week. He said high school tuition is up by another student, and they are 3-students over budget for this year. There was a brief discussion about pro-rating the tuition. Mr. Bridgham said special education tuition is up $72,000 for out of district placements. He said they have eliminated one special education student. He said the budget adjusted the price for diesel fuel to $4/gallon and heating oil and LP gas to $3/gallon.

Mr. Bridgham said the big increases are in special education and transportation. He said regular instruction is stable and other lines are down. Henry asked about the local appropriation increase. Mr. Bridgham said the overall budget is up 7.2% but the local appropriation is up 38.6% due to the loss of the balance forward and the state subsidy cut. He said there were no other changes from the budget submitted in February.

Ms. Perkins said the school committee went back to work after knowing about the state cuts and looked at every possible scenario. She said they figured out the cost of sending students to another school for tuition, and everything they looked at was more expensive than the present setup. She said they have started to look for more ways to collaborate on immediate costs and could not find ways to do it less expensively. Hubene asked about the cost per student. Mr. Bridgham said that is a state formula which takes out debt service, transportation and special education and divides it by the number of students. A short discussion followed about special education.

Henry asked when the debt service payments start for the renovation project. Mr. Bridgham said it would be in 2010. Henry asked if the school committee has decided on the principal's position, noting that Val Perkins announced his retirement earlier in the evening. Faith Perkins said they plan to have a hiring committee that will come up with a job description and a salary scale. She said the position had been cut to an 80% full-time equivalent position in the last submission. She said they would look for an experienced person, and they've not yet decided on whether it would be a full or part time job that is advertised. Ms. Perkins also noted that there could be some transportation cost changes as the entire school union has just received a joint busing bid.

Hubene asked about the teacher aides, and whether any would be eliminated. Ms. Perkins said they've looked, but that is dependent on the Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and if the plan says a full time aide is needed, that's what it will be. Ms. Perkins said she believed that all the students with an aide require a full timer.

Mr. Bridgham said the bus contracts for all the Union 92 schools expire at the same time with a goal of having a union-wide contract. He said the union currently runs 21 buses and they've studied ridership and found there were 565 students transported, which could cut the need down to 12 buses. He said they went out to bid and received one back. He said they're still talking to the bidder, and it could save each town in the union some money. Henry asked if Ellsworth was involved. Mr. Bridgham said no. Ms. Perkins said they have started talking with Ellsworth about other collaboration ideas.

Reggie asked about maintenance costs. Mr. Bridgham said there were no maintenance costs in Lamoine because they're under a bus contract with a firm that has its own garage. A brief discussion followed.

Robin said it's pretty clear that much of the problem will have to be dealt with at the next state election. Joe thanked the school committee for its hard work, noting that it is a tough year. He said the citizens appreciate it.

Henry asked about the special town meeting schedule. It was explained that the open town meeting to set the budget would be on May 21st and the validation referendum would follow the next Tuesday (May 27th ). A short discussion and explanation of the validation referendum followed. Mr. Bridgham said there would be 14 articles in total, including some articles to amend the current year budget. Stu asked if the validation referendum would cover the current year. Mr. Bridgham said he did not believe so. He said an explanation of the budget would be posted at the polls.

Henry asked if there would be something produced to explain each of the items in the budget. Superintendent Jim Boothby said they would put out information for people to read. Robin asked if the validation referendum would include all of the articles on the open meeting warrant or just one question. Mr. Boothby said it's just one question, yes or no. A short discussion followed about the confusing wording of the validation question. Mr. Boothby said an attempt will be made to educate voters on the process.

Town Meeting Follow Up Stu said he'd placed the item on the agenda in case any follow up was needed. None was.

Budget Committee Recommendation School Budget Robin moved to recommend the amounts shown in the School Committee's budget labeled Draft 6. Joe 2nd .

Reggie asked how it would affect the mill rate. Stu said it could increase tax bills up to 50%. Joe asked if twice a year tax billing could be a consideration. Stu said that's generally done if there is a cash flow problem, and there hasn't been one. There was a brief discussion about accepting pre-payments.

Vote in favor of the recommendation motion was 5-0.

Reggie suggested trying to get some federal grants. Mr. Bridgham said the school receives about $100,000 in federal aid.

School Site Visit Stu said the town meeting last week indicated that they would like to have a site plan of sorts on how to lay out the school property lot and set aside the fire department and ballfields. There was a brief discussion about when the Selectmen and School Committee could get together, how to legally accomplish it, and about minimum lot sizes required by State Law. Mr. Boothby said his office would consult with Maine School Management Association's attorneys on some of the questions.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:50 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary