FARMINGDALE — Elementary and middle school foreign language, teaching positions and education technicians are among the potential cuts as Regional School Unit 2 sets its budget.
School board members have a $1.2 million hole to fill, and they are considering a menu of possible cuts that adds up to $1.5 million.

“The board would rather not do all of these things, but we do need to consider all of our options,” Superintendent Virgel Hammonds said.

Some of the largest potential savings require the agreement of the local teachers’ union. Those include a wage freeze for teachers, which would save $269,706, and three furlough days for all staff, which would save $181,993.

The furlough days would not affect the school calendar for students because they would be taken from the five staff development days in the calendar.

Hammonds said union officials have been open to discussions.

The school board finance committee will meet at 6 p.m. tonight at Hall-Dale High School and could send a proposal to the full school board for consideration at Thursday’s regular school board meeting, also at 6 p.m. at Hall-Dale High School.

At a finance committee meeting at Monmouth Academy last week, board members discussed the options prepared by the committee and administrators, as well as additional suggestions from public input.

Monmouth board member Jeff Gosselin said people are calling for reductions in administration, including elimination of the curriculum director position following the retirement of Christine Chamberlain.

Several people have asked about the late bus run, said Monmouth board member Jim Grandahl. The late bus allows some students to participate in sports or receive extra help after school, some board members noted.

Hammonds said he will research questions that came from the public and present more information at tonight’s meeting.

One option before the board is to cut 10 education technicians — one from each school in the district.

That would save $229,278, but it would be difficult, Hammonds said.

“Our teachers love having them in the classrooms,” he said in a budget presentation. “They’re valuable resources for our kids. But we could cut one per site and still meet needs of our children.”
Residents of Farmingdale and Hallowell may be asked to pay extra if they want to maintain foreign language classes at Hall-Dale Elementary School or a full-time nurse for Hall-Dale high and middle schools.

Reducing a full-time nurse to half-time is estimated to save nearly $32,000. Eliminating three foreign language teachers at Hall-Dale elementary and middle schools, plus one at Monmouth Middle School, would save $217,581.

One scenario school board members discussed last week is keeping middle school foreign language in Hall-Dale and Monmouth and adding it in Richmond to provide equal opportunities. It’s not clear how much money that would save.

In that scenario, Farmingdale and Hallowell would have to approve an extra tax payment to keep foreign language classes at the elementary school.

At least one similar arrangement already exists in the school district. Dresden residents pay extra to keep a nurse on half-time at Dresden Elementary because the district funds only a quarter-time position.

Board chairwoman Dawn Gallagher, a Hallowell representative, said some constituents have said they would rather pay a small tax increase than make some of the major cuts required to fill the $1.2 million budget hole.

A quarter-mil increase in the tax rate, for example, would raise about $300,000 for the district and increase taxes by $25 per $100,000 of property value. That means, if no cuts were made to fill the budget gap, taxes would go by about one mil, or an increase of $100 per $100,000 of property value.

“That’s what some of our constituents have asked for, so I think we have a responsibility to look at it,” Gallagher said.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]