Regional School Unit 1 will hold its first public forum Monday on its proposed $38.8 million budget, a 1.6% increase from last year’s budget, though it’s unclear how that increase will impact property taxes.

The local contribution for RSU 1’s four communities is estimated at $19.6 million in total, up $556,000 — or 2.9% — from last year. Of this amount, Bath would be assessed $11.2 million (up 2.45%); Arrowsic, roughly $539,000 (up 5.69%); Phippsburg, over $3.1 million (up 5.34%); and Woolwich, $4.6 million (up 2.15%).

RSU 1 Business Manager Debra Clark did not return requests for comment Thursday on what the expected tax impacts will be for the district’s four communities.

Fiscal year 2021’s $38.2 million budget raised district-wide taxes 2.1%. For a home valued at $200,000 in each community, the tax hike from the school budget alone was predicted to be $41.32 in Arrowsic, $15.74 in Phippsburg, $9.74 in Woolwich, but Bath would see a $10.62 reduction, Clark told The Forecaster last year.

Salaries and benefits make up about 61% of the proposed $38.8 million budget.

The largest driver of the budget is a $469,000 increase in regular instruction, up nearly 4% from previous spending. Part of that increase covers a new gifted and talented teacher and a new sixth grade science teacher at Bath Middle School, according to budget documents available on the school district’s website.

Special education and vocational education instruction also increased by about 2%, or $112,000, and 8%, or $123,000, respectively.

School Board Chairman Stephen August said administrators tried to keep the proposed budget “very lean” because they recognize “it has been a difficult year for everyone” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the administration and board have been very mindful of the tax burden on the communities while still supporting our educational programs,” said August.

Those increases to instruction are balanced by a $205,000 drop in the debt services budget, a $45,000 decrease in special education tuition, and a $23,000 decrease in operation and maintenance spending.

Food service and capital reserve spending is predicted to stay level.

The school board will hold the first of two online public forums on the budget at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 5. The district will vote to finalize the budget in late May.

August said the budget is far from finalized and there’s time to make adjustments if the public calls for them.

“Monday night is an opportunity for members of the community to voice any concerns and raise questions,” said August. “We hope we have good participation and we encourage people to call in to address the board.”

Public comments can be made by registering on the school’s website.


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