DI-S school budget up for first time in 4 years

DEER ISLE — The proposed FY 18-19 education budget for Deer Isle-Stonington schools contains the first increase in four years.

Union 76 Superintendent Christian Elkington presented a proposed budget, totaling $6,784,862, at a School Board meeting April 12. That budget contains $500,000 more in expenditures than this year’s budget of $6,252,628.

Next year’s enrollment is projected at 345 students, according to Elkington. When asked about the proposed per-student cost of education, Elkington said that number wouldn’t be available from the state until next winter.

The formula to determine per-pupil cost is complicated, he said. It’s not just a matter of dividing the total expenditure by the number of students.

Taxpayers will shoulder only an additional $190,000, thanks to increases in state education subsidy and other increased revenues, such as tuition, Elkington said. Additionally, a $100,000 maintenance reserve and using $210,000 in fund balance reserves will reduce the effect on tax bills.

Much of the school budget increase is due to higher health insurance costs for staff.

However, the proposed special education budget at the elementary school also contains a big increase, Elkington said. The total proposed special education budget is $894,194, an increase of $220,729 over the current year.

Elkington said four positions at the grade school are no longer covered by an entitlement grant and a student will need to be placed at a facility out of the district, which will cost $72,000 a year. Then, there are the aforementioned health insurance increases.

Discussion about the budget was minimal among board members. In addition to the board, about eight staff members and one resident attended the meeting.

“We asked him to keep it as tight as he could but do what needed to be done,” School Board Chairwoman Jane Osborne said Monday.

“Personally, I feel he’s [Elkington] done a good job putting together the budget for next year,” Osborne said.

A public hearing is scheduled for May 9 for residents to hear about the budget and ask questions. The hearing will be at the Reach Performing Arts Center at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School. No time has been scheduled yet.

Meanwhile, the School Board will continue to review the budget at meetings on April 24 and April 26.

The board is scheduled to vote on the budget May 1. The district-wide vote on the school budget will be held June 4. The affirmation votes in Deer Isle and Stonington will be held Tuesday, June 12.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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