DEER ISLE — There is good news about the proposed school budget for taxpayers in Deer Isle and Stonington.
The proposed education spending package for FY 2019-20 is up 1.4 percent over this year’s budget for a total of $6,690,467, according to Union 76 Superintendent Christian Elkington.
That’s a $98,229 increase over the FY 2018-19 budget of $6,788,696.
However, the potential increase in property taxes to fund education is less than half a percent, .38 percent to be exact, according to CSD 13 School Board Chairwoman Jane Osborne.
Osborne said there were revenue increases, including an increase in state funding, to offset the higher budget.
Also, the School Board intends to put $310,000 from fund balance toward the new budget, which starts July 1, if approved.
A budget validation vote is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11. Polls at both the Deer Isle and Stonington town offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The increase in the proposed school budget is largely due to higher health insurance costs as well as teacher contract increases, according to a presentation Elkington prepared for the community.
“I think the superintendent did an amazing job putting this budget together in a way that lets us move forward on our initiatives to improve programming and student outcomes without a significant increase,” Osborne said.
She referenced a Jan. 29 island-wide referendum, in which voters supported keeping high school education on the island despite an average per-pupil cost of $24,000 annually. Sending high school students off the island would have been the least expensive option, but not by much.
“While there is incredible community support for the schools as shown in the January 29th vote, the board and the superintendent are very aware that that does not translate to permission to raise the budget, and therefore taxes, significantly,” Osborne said.
“We still must be aware of the difficulty some have in paying their taxes and, equally or more important, that it is our responsibility to be good fiscal managers,” she added.