The Maine School Administrative District 75 school board discusses the 2021-22 school budget on Thursday. Screenshot

The Maine School Administrative District 75 school board on Thursday approved a $47.3 million school budget for the 2021-22 academic year. If approved by voters in June, it will increase taxes in the district by 1.4%.

Budget spending was increased by $1 million — or 2.4% — compared to the current year. Local taxes will also increase by a total of $370,859.

Bowdoinham will see a 1.8% tax increase or $35 for a typical home valued at $170,000. Similarly, property taxes in Harpswell will grow by 1.21% or $24 for a home valued at $428,000.

Topsham would see a 1.88% increase or a $44 tax bill increase for a home valued at $238,700. Conversely, Bowdoin homes valued at $117,500 will get a $2 decrease in taxes.

The budget includes an $835,583 reduction in debt service and $110,342 in cuts. Business Manager Mark Conrad said that reductions in administrative positions make up most of the cuts.

The budget also includes $630,130 in new spending. This includes $289,136 for two new teachers at Mt. Ararat Middle School and two district-wide teacher substitutes. The budget also increases the hours of a teacher and adding a teaching assistant at the district’s special education center and increasing the time social workers spend at Mt. Ararat High School and Bowdoinham Community School.

The additional spending also covers the hiring of two new van drivers for $87,862, increasing substitute pay rates for drivers and teachers for $33,755, replacing all of the bus radios for $45,000, as well as spending $42,000 to replace pickup truck for the facilities department.

Health insurance is increasing 4% and teacher salaries are increasing by 4.1%. Health insurance will also increase by 4% and teacher salaries will increase by 4.1%.

The budget ultimately passed, with school board members Eric Lusk and Alison Hawkes voting against it in the 11-2 vote.

“It’s terrific when our debt service goes backwards because a loan finally matured,” Lusk said. “But we are expanding the size of our non-teaching headcount much too quickly for us to be able to keep these budgets at a level where the people who live in the district are going to be able to keep up with the property tax hikes, so I’m going to be voting no.”

The spending plan includes the adult education budget, which Conrad said has been flat for three years.

The budget goes to a district-wide budget meeting on May 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Orion Performing Arts Center located at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. After approval, the budget will then be put up to a referendum vote on June 8.

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