RSU 24 Board approves 2 percent salary increase for superintendent

SULLIVAN The Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) Board of Directors voted unanimously at its regular meeting Monday to raise Superintendent Michael Eastman’s salary by 2 percent for the 2021-22 school year following discussion in executive session. 

According to the district’s 2020-21 adopted budget, Eastman’s current salary is $114,330.

In other financial news, School Board member Keith Goldfarb gave an update on the district’s Finance and Budget Committee, where he noted that four out of the district’s five schools show an increase in their preliminary budgets for fiscal year 2021-22. 

He reported that the Cave Hill School’s budget is up nearly 17 percent, Ella Lewis School is up nearly 10.6 percent, Mountain View School is up by approximately 4 percent and Sumner Memorial High School is projecting a 3.5 percent increase.

The Mountain View School is currently projecting about a 4 percent decrease in its budget. 

“Across the board, the majority of the increases were due to contractual staff salary and benefits arrangements,” Goldfarb explained. Other expense increases are due to programs that had previously been funded by grants.

Goldfarb reiterated that these figures are preliminary and may change as the budgeting process continues. 

He also shared “not good” news regarding the state’s allocated funding to RSU 24.

“Due to the decline in enrollment, reported as of last October, when it was down fairly severely, and the decrease in expenditures from last year that were due to the COVID shutdowns, the state contribution to the RSU 24 regular [Essential Programs and Services formula] will decrease by $358,772,” he reported. 

The Essential Programs and Services formula (EPS) is how the state determines what it will contribute toward the cost of a school’s education and what costs the school must cover.

Goldfarb also shared the district would feel a “significant hit” in federal funding for special education services.

The good news Goldfarb shared is that enrollment numbers for the district are rebounding, which will help increase state-allocated funds next fall.

While the state funding decreases and the transition to the new Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus, the district’s grades six-through-12 school currently under construction, may bring new budget challenges, Goldfarb said the district is currently in a position of fiscal strength. 

“We’re in a fairly strong financial position in the moment, so at least we’re not getting hit when we’re already down,” he said.

The board also authorized the sale of retired Apple laptops to teaching staff, high school seniors and potentially other students at the end of the year. 

Two hundred and ninety new Chromebook laptops were purchased for all high school students to use next year thanks to coronavirus relief funding. Teaching staff also will receive new MacBook Pro laptops with the funding. 

In other business, the board decided to resume in-person meetings with a remote option available beginning in April. Additionally, the Building Committee, Educational Programming Committee and the Policy Committee will resume in-person meetings with the remote option in April.

The board also voted unanimously for Eastman to begin developing a plan to get students, except for those attending Sumner, back to in-person learning on Wednesday mornings, which is currently a remote learning day for the district. 

The development of a spring sports season by Eastman was also unanimously approved by the board.

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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