SACO — School Board members in Saco are working to create a budget that meets the needs of the students without over burdening taxpayers.

The school board discussed the upcoming fiscal year budget at two school board meetings last week.

Saco Schools Superintendent Dominic DePatsy presented to the board a proposed 2019 fiscal year budget of $38.4 million on Wednesday. 

“This is basically bare bones,” said DePatsy.  He said there is also another $1.3 million of additional requests not included in the budget number.

The board directed School Finance Director Jason DiDonato to come back Thursday with preliminary numbers on how the proposed budget could impact the tax rate. 

DiDonato said if the school board went with the $38.4 million budget, it would increase the mil rate 56 cents, which would mean an annual tax increase of about $120 on the median home of $214,000.

If the school board added the $1.4 million of additional requests not included in the preliminary budget proposal, it would impact the mil rate by 1.25, which would be an annual tax increase of $266 on a $214,000 home.

These scenarios do not include any impact the municipal budget could have on the tax rate.

If the school board wanted to pass a budget that would not impact the tax rate, it would have to reduce the $38.4 million proposal by $1.2 million.

The school board directed DePatsy to review the budget proposal and see if there are efficiencies that can be made without impacting students and to create a proposed budget scenario adding about half of the extra requests not included in the preliminary budget. 

School Board member Lynn Leary said school officials needed to “look within the budget and think outside the box” to come up with solutions such as using grants, to provide the educational opportunities students needed in a more cost effective way.

“We really need to look creatively at the way we’re doing things,” said School Board member Stanley Mozden.

The school budget proposal will be reviewed at a school finance committee meeting on Tuesday night.

There will be a public hearing on the budget at  Saco City Hall at 7 p.m. on March 15.

After the school board approves a budget proposal, it must be then approved by the City Council and lastly by voters at a June city-wide ballot.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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