RSU 24 Board approves school budget, capital improvement campaign proposed

SULLIVAN — The Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) Board of Directors unanimously approved the proposed $18.2 million budget for the 2021-22 school year at its May 4 meeting. 

On May 26, there will be a public hearing for voters in the school district to ask questions about the budget and the budget development process. Then, on June 8, a budget referendum will be held in each of the district’s towns, which are Eastbrook, Franklin, Gouldsboro, Mariaville, Sorrento, Steuben, Sullivan, Waltham and Winter Harbor.

The proposed budget is a 5 percent increase from the current budget, due largely to the $721,416 debt service incurred from the construction of the new Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus, the grades-6-through-12 school currently being built behind Sumner Memorial High School. 

Without the debt service, the budget’s increase from last year is not even 1 percent. 

Of the $18.2 million, about $13.1 million will be required from taxpayers. The breakdown is $882,710 from the town of Eastbrook, about $2.3 million from Franklin, nearly $3 million from Gouldsboro, $843,054 from Mariaville, $605,579 from Sorrento, $2 million from Steuben, $2.2 million from Sullivan, $451,314 from Waltham and $879,561 from Winter Harbor.

Additionally, the board heard a presentation from Design Group Collaborative (DGC), an architectural design firm based in Ellsworth, which was awarded a bid to develop a 10-year capital improvement plan for the Mountain View School. DGC President Carla Haskell gave the presentation with DGC’s Louis Schellhase.

The goal is to also develop 10-year plans for Cave Hill School, Ella Lewis School and the Peninsula School in subsequent years. 

The rather extensive list of repairs for Mountain View School was broken into a high-priority category, a lower priority category, a category addressing how to make the school more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a category for the school’s annex building.

Costs for the high-priority list ring in at about $2.7 million. The lower priority list totals $458,821, costs to make the school more ADA-compliant are $103,093 and addressing the annex will cost nearly $50,000. Haskell mentioned that if the school does not intend to continue using the annex building, that could affect what repairs and costs are addressed. 

Facilities and Operations Manager for RSU 24 Janet Jordan explained that the school district would begin looking at what the school’s priorities are and always explores funding options outside of tax dollars, which could include applying for energy grants (Haskell mentioned this could be done especially for installing LED lighting). 

“This is our starting point,” Jordan said of the capital plan.

“The school does need some attention,” Haskell said of the single-story structure first built in 1975. In 1989, the school’s kindergarten-through-grade two space was added.

Higher priority items include replacing the school’s double-hung windows.

“In some classrooms, they’re not opening at all,” she said of the current vinyl windows, which were installed in 2005. 

Other high-priority items include replacing exit doors, addressing the boiler that currently only has three of eight pumps working and replacing the gym’s rubber roof.

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing figures made up the bulk of costs, with structural concerns taking up less of the budget, Haskell explained. 

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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