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Lamoine Budget Committee

Minutes of August 4, 20098

Chairman Henry Ashmore called the meeting to order at 5:31 PM

Present were: Budget Committee members Henry Ashmore, Linda Feury , Merle Bragdon, Hubene Brodie, Robin Veysey; Adm. Asst. Stu Marckoon, School Union 92 Business Manager David Bridgham, School Union 92 Superintendent Jim Boothby , School Committee members Nancy Sargent, Christina Maguire-Harding, Kathleen Rybarz, Faith Perkins, Robert Pulver; Selectman Brett Jones, Jackie Weaver (Ellsworth American), Judith & Nanette Ghander and Kathleen DeFusco.

Minutes – Robin said she noticed a few typos in both the June 19, 2008 and April 7, 2008 minutes. She said none changed the meaning. Merle moved to approve both sets of minutes as presented. Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 4-0 (Feury abstained)

Education Budget

School Board chair Christina Maguire-Harding ran through the newest budget proposal. Included in the reduction were:

The total reduction from the previously approved budget was $58,098.40.

Henry asked why the Athletic Director's position would be restored. Mrs. Maguire-Harding said it had been built into the Phys Ed Teacher's job when that was full-time. David Bridgham, Union 92's business manager, said it then was put into the principal's job description. He said now that both were cut back, someone needs to prepare for athletic events. There was a brief discussion over the duties of the athletic director.

Henry asked about the summer tutor program. Mr. Bridgham said the money had been left in the budget in case tutors were needed, but they were not so there was no sense in keeping the money in the budget. Henry asked if they were mandated by the state. Mr. Bridgham said they were not. A short discussion about the program followed.

Henry said he would like to know which lines cannot be reduced. It was noted that a page was missing from the budget distributed to the committee, but Mr. Bridgham noted that particular page had no changes from the previous budget.

It was asked what Purchased Professional Services were. Mr. Bridgham answered legal services and auditing.

It was asked what the school board expenses were. Mr. Bridgham supplied a list. School Board travel got an inquiry. Mr. Bridgham said that was another line. After a brief discussion it was felt another $475 could be cut from this line.

Henry asked about K-8 technology, and asked to go through the lines. Union 92 Superintendent Jim Boothby said a stipend is paid to the MLTI (Maine Lap Top Initiative) person. Mr. Bridgham said each district must pay for an MLTI person. He said the state used to pay for it. Each line in that budget section was explained.

Henry asked about the number of Ed Techs and how many days they work. Mr. Bridgham said they work 7 hour days, five days a week, and 191 days a year. He said there are 7 professional development days, and explained how they're utilized.

Hubene asked about the number of high school students. Mrs. Maguire-Harding said there were 88 or 89. Henry asked about other student support expenses. He said there was $15,000 budgeted, but only $8,000 was spent, so something must be different. Mr. Bridgham said they presumed that expenses would be the same as the previous year and explained the program.

Merle asked about tuition to LEA's, noting that $90,000 was spent, but the budget was $42,000. Mr. Bridgham said some expenses were broken out into a different category.

Henry said he went looking for the school nutrition audit but could not find it. He said his impression was that if money is given to the program, it's spent each year, no matter how much it is. Mr. Bridgham said there were 3 components to pay for the school lunch program. One is lunch money from parents, the State's free and reduced lunch reimbursement, and the local appropriation. He said the account is adjusted at the end of each year to provide for start up costs. He said the operating balance this year was about $8,600. Mr. Bridgham explained how the program and fund worked. There was a brief discussion about the carry forward for the next fiscal year and how much lunch cost. Mr. Boothby said he planned to recommend an increase to $2.25 for hot lunch. Henry asked about the reimbursement rate for free lunches.

Henry said the school is undergoing a major renovation project, including electrical, plumbing, and roofing. He said he wondered if it would be possible to reduce the maintenance and repairs lines. Mr. Bridgham explained the various lines. Henry asked if it might be a bit high. Mr. Bridgham said it might be. Henry said costs might be lower after renovations, and asked if the school expected to expend a lot of money after replacing everything. Hubene said there was a lot of money budgeted for locks and doors. Mr. Bridgham said maybe a couple thousand could be cut. Mr. Boothby said there were also two outbuildings to maintain.

Selectman Brett Jones asked how much of the heating system was in that area. There was a quick discussion about heating. Henry asked if the boiler was being replaced by a more efficient system. Mr. Bridgham noted that maintenance contracts are included in purchased property services, and that line is down.

Merle noted the heating budget is up about $11,900, which is just $3,500 higher than the actual price for the past fiscal year. He asked if that was a contractual price. Mr. Bridgham said the school bulk purchase has not yet locked in a price, but they've budgeted over $4/gallon. He said he hopes the insulation will help. There was a short discussion about oil bids and locked in prices.

Linda asked about actual gallon usage. Mr. Bridgham said it was 8,463 gallons last year. Mrs. Maguire-Harding said they built 8,750 into the budget. Mr. Bridgham noted that 10-years ago the price was 50-cents a gallon. Mrs. Maguire-Harding said the average number of gallons used has been about 8,300 to 8,400. Linda said no energy efficiency has been built in. Selectman Jones said he was curious about the potential efficiencies of the renovation project. Mr. Bridgham said he assumes there will be some, but he has no data to work with. He said the building is still under construction.

Robin said the school budget cuts represent nickels and dimes, and the only people getting hurt are little kids. She said the town has no control over high school and special education spending. She said 5 to 14 year olds are getting cut off at the knees. Hubene said the proposed cuts do not affect the kids. Mrs. Maguire-Harding said there are only limited areas that the school committee can cut.

Hubene asked whether the school pays per student for transportation costs. She asked if it matters whether 5 students or 25 students take the bus to high school. Mr. Bridgham said the contract is based on the number of miles the bus drives. There was a brief discussion about the impact of teen-agers having a driver's license and the anticipation there will be more bus use because of the cost of fuel.

Linda asked about contracting with a secondary school to take all of Lamoine's students. Mr. Bridgham said that might be possible. He said the contract with MDI High School expires in 2010. Mrs. Maguire-Harding said the MDI contract assures that all students have access to secondary education. A short discussion followed.

Hubene said she heard a rumor that Trenton and Surry are pulling out of Union 92. Mr. Boothby said that's not a rumor – it is fact. There was a brief discussion about consolidation and the fact that Union 92 will no longer exist under the current plans. Mr. Boothby explained how RSU (Regional School Unit) 7 would likely be set up. Faith Perkins explained how the process worked and that Lamoine would become part of a larger unit served by two high schools (Ellsworth and Sumner). There was a short discussion about the MDI High contract and whether consolidation would actually save any money.

Stu asked whether after consolidation, this local budget process will no longer exist. Henry said that was correct. He said if Lamoine doesn't join the proposed RSU, education would be much more expensive. Ms. Perkins said once consolidation starts the budget will not be done this way next year.

Hubene asked if the consolidated school system would assume debt service. Ms. Perkins said that has been proposed, and that would be beneficial to the town. There was a discussion about building ownership and debt service.

Hubene asked how expenses would be shared. Mr. Boothby said it's based on how the governance is set up. He said it'll likely be based on town population and a cost sharing formula which currently takes into effect how much a town is paying for its schools and how much it exceeds EPS. He said he expected by 2015 a different cost sharing formula would be developed based on town valuation and the number of pupils. Henry noted under the current proposal there is not the huge cost shifting that potentially existed last fall. Mr. Boothby said as an RSU, there would be more state aid than if each town stood alone. Henry explained the budget process, which would be pretty much the same way the school department develops its budget, but then dealt with on the RSU level instead of locally.

Robin said if a .6FTE principal is approved for this school year, a new principal would be needed the following year. Mr. Boothby said if Lamoine joins the RSU, the RSU will plan for administrative support for the school. He said if Lamoine is not in the RSU, that would be a challenge. Robin said the town ought to be prepared to pay the entire bill.

Hubene asked if all the programs in all the schools would be the same. Mr. Boothby said pretty much. A short discussion followed in regard to “extras” in the budget.

Stu asked about the governance structure of the RSU. Mr. Boothby said there is a provision for a local advisory committee if the town so chooses. He said that committee could work on local issues such as programming and building use. He said the town does not need to have one. A short discussion followed.

Selectman Jones asked if there is anyone interested in being a part-time principal. Mr. Boothby said there are a number of people available as interim principals and he would seek one out. Selectman Jones asked if the reason for an Athletic Director is due to the reduction in Phys Ed. Mr. Boothby answered that it was. Selectman Jones asked whether teachers are required to maintain some course work to keep their certification and whether professional development cuts would affect that. Mr. Boothby said they would make sure the required courses are offered and REAP funds might be available to help. Selectman Jones asked about funding being based on EPS (Essential Programs and Services) at the RSU level. Mr. Boothby said that would stabilize funding a bit. Mr. Bridgham noted that without an RSU in place, the town would see the funds required to run the school exceed the EPS increase each year.

Hubene asked if the budget being presented tonight was the same as the previous budget, or does it include the $58,000 reduction. Mr. Bridgham said the budget given to the committee this evening is $58,000 less than the one approved at the July town meeting. Ms. Perkins said the final proposal will include a $425 reduction in school board travel.

Robin moved to recommend the budget presented by the school committee, though she was not too pleased about it. Merle 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Hubene said the reason the budget did not get approval at the validation vote the last time was because it got increased at town meeting. She said she didn't want to come back again. She said at the last meeting the school budget didn't really get reduced – it was the municipal budget. She said she realizes the school committee can't control the town meeting. Robin said it would be better if everyone with an opinion came to town meeting. Selectman Jones agreed that it would have been better if people who were opposed to the budget spoke. Ms. Perkins said the school committee is available to speak with people and explain the budget before the town meeting. Mrs. Maguire Harding said the process has been engaging. She said Lamoine has helped the entire county learn how school funding occurs.

Henry noted that at the previous town meeting the town did not eliminate any road work, just a sinking fund for that purpose.

2009/2010 Meeting Schedule – Henry said the Selectmen generally like to meet with the Budget Committee in late September, and then the committee meets in October, November and December to discuss the town budget. He said there should be a final meeting to finalize the town budget in January. There was a brief discussion about the need for the estimated RSU budget and the RSU budget process. Stu said he would notify the committee when the Selectmen would like to meet with them in September.

Mondays were preferred to the meeting night as usual.

There was a brief discussion about school administrators working to plan their own demise under the consolidation plan.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 6:53 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary