RSU 24 proposes 2 percent increase

SULLIVAN — Regional School Unit 24 officials last week approved a proposed 2020-21 budget of $17.35 million, representing a 1.99 percent increase, which voters will consider possibly in June.

In a unanimous vote on May 19, the RSU 24 Board ratified the $17,353,898 budget, which is up $338,859 over the 2019-20 budget of $17,015,039.15, put forth by the board’s Finance & Budget Committee, according to Business Manager David Bridgham. He is retiring June 30.

For the 2020-21 budget, Bridgham said the projected total tax appropriation of $13.005 million represents a decrease of $22,561 overall from the $13.027 million raised the previous year. Depending on their valuation and school enrollment, RSU 24 member towns will see the following rises and cuts in their assessments: Eastbrook (-1.6 percent), Franklin (+0.42 percent), Gouldsboro (+3.62 percent), Mariaville (-3.81 percent), Sorrento (+1.47 percent), Steuben (+0.13 percent), Sullivan (-0.61 percent), Waltham (+0.72 percent) and Winter Harbor (-8.73 percent).

When and how RSU 24 schools’ classes resume in September, Bridgham says budget committee members have worked hard to anticipate different scenarios and related costs. He noted a great amount has been budgeted to replenish basic classroom supplies that were depleted during the 10 weeks of remote learning ending June 2. Students’ laptop computers also will require more maintenance, given their greater use, to be ready for users in the fall.

Bridgham said extra money is being budgeted for more sanitation and cleaning supplies.

As for capital improvements, the business manager said funds have been budgeted to install an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant lift enabling disabled students to access the stage at Mountain View School in Sullivan. He added money has been budgeted at various schools for paving and phone upgrades.

“The 2021 budget was created and reviewed a number of times to best find the balance between the needs of our students and the resources of our communities,” RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman said late last week. “We know people will be struggling in both the short-term and long-term and we presented a budget that we believe is reduced to the lowest level possible.”

Eastman said a date has not yet been set for the RSU 24 district budget meeting. He and his staff are awaiting guidance from the Governor’s office about how and what protocol to follow for staging such meetings.

Letitia Baldwin

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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