TOPSHAM — Next year’s School Administrative District 75 budget could rise 8.9 percent, according to a draft budget presented at Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting.

The $41.2 million spending plan, up $3.4 million from the current year, does not include salary increases, which are still being negotiated.

Included in the spending hike is an estimated $1.7 million in interest for debt service, due primarily to the construction of a new Mt. Ararat High School.

Another $500,000 in special education costs covers hikes in out-of-district placement expenses ($235,000) and contracted services ($73,300), as well as keeping two educational technician positions the SAD 75 Board of Directors approved at the start of the year.

New resource recommendations, totaling nearly $576,000, include four educational technicians for incoming elementary students (nearly $163,000); an allowance for the cost of moving in to the new school ($95,000); two ed techs to cover one-to-one needs at the secondary level (about $81,000); and a special education teacher to cover caseloads (nearly $75,000).

The large amount of special education funding “reflects the needs of our students that we’re seeing in the classroom, and the growing numbers of identified students in special education,” SAD 75 Business Manager Mark Conrad said Wednesday.

“We did some work with our principals and program directors this summer, and there was I think a consensus, that if we were to focus on any area of additional resources in the coming year, that would be an area for focus,” he noted.

A projected $15.3 million in state subsidy, up 11.1 percent from last year’s aid amount, is largely offsetting the budget. With $112,000 in other revenues and $400,000 in fund balance carry-over also subtracted, $25.4 million remains to be assessed to SAD 75’s four member towns.

Topsham would be taxed $10.8 million, a 5 percent increase; Harpswell, $8.4 million, up nearly 9 percent; Bowdoin, $3.1 million, up 5.8 percent; and Bowdoinham, $3.2 million, up 6.6 percent.

Impacts per average home in each town are still being determined, Conrad said.

Public budget forums are to be held at Harpswell Community School on Thursday, March 21; Woodside Elementary School in Topsham on Monday, March 25; and Bowdoinham Community School on Tuesday, March 26. All begin at 6:30 p.m.

The SAD 75 Board of Directors is due to approve the budget April 25, after which it goes to two public votes: a district budget meeting May 23, and a budget validation referendum June 11.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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