THE RSU 1 BOARD OF DIRECTORS met on Monday, issuing the first reading of the 2018 budget and discussing developments in the design of the new Morse High School at the Wing Farm site, which is on pace to open in 2020.

THE RSU 1 BOARD OF DIRECTORS met on Monday, issuing the first reading of the 2018 budget and discussing developments in the design of the new Morse High School at the Wing Farm site, which is on pace to open in 2020.

BATH

The Regional School Unit 1 board of directors introduced a proposed 2018 budget of $29.09 million at a first reading Monday. The proposed budget represents an $825,969, or 2.92 percent, increase from the 2017 budget.

Superintendent Patrick Manuel said an increase in salaries and benefits are the biggest driver of the increase. That includes four new educational technician positions and one study hall monitoring position, which would cost RSU 1 $802,384.

Under the proposed budget, the local assessment increases by $775,379 — or 4.53 percent. Arrowsic would see the biggest increase in their local share — a 7.65 percent increase. Phippsburg would see the smallest, an increase of just 3.86 percent.

The budget is still being fine-tuned, however, and Manuel said that the final cost could be whittled down due to state subsidies RSU 1 has received this year and money that the school district has saved on heating fuel costs by switching to a new vendor.

Additionally, retired debt was down $378,000 in 2016, Manuel said.

“We’ve cut more than $450,000 from the original budget proposed earlier this year,” said Manuel.

Tim Harkins of Arrowsic, who holds a residence position on the school board, said that the “administration has made some significant sacrifices to make this budget happen.”

The 2018 budget will be revisited during the school board meeting on April 24 before being put to vote at a later date.

Wing Farm developments

During Monday’s meeting, Manuel also presented the latest developments in the design of the new Morse High School building at the Wing Farm industrial park site straddling Bath and the town of West Bath. The school is on track to open in the fall 2020.

Manuel said that the school board has met with architects once a week for the past month to work on the design of the interior of the building, and are developing “a list of things the committee feels are important to have inside the school that are not state funded.”

Manuel said there is a tentative date for a straw poll meeting on April 11. Straw poll meetings are open to the community and typically involve architects presenting various aspects of a job site’s design, such as acreage, cost and how much of a job needs to be funded locally. At the end of a straw poll meeting, the town casts an unofficial vote that is considered before drafting an official referendum.

“If the straw poll happens, we’ll go to the state Board of Education in May for the approval of the site, and our aggressive goal is by June 15 to have a public meeting about the design of the building,” said Manuel. “Then over the summer we would go to the state board for the official approval of the project, and then in September we would come back and have the referendum.”

Manuel said that in the worst case scenario the referendum vote would be pushed back to November, which still would put the school on track to open in 2020.


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