Rising utility costs are a major reason for a 3.4% increase in Regional School Unit 1’s proposed budget, the superintendent said this week.

The spending proposal for schools in Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich for the 2022-2023 school year is $40,144,221, up $1.3 million from the current budget.

Operation, maintenance and transportation costs, driven by surging oil, gas and electricity prices, were among the largest causes of the increase, according to Superintendent Patrick Manuel. The transportation budget jumped over 23%, though, partly because some costs that had previously been incorrectly filed under athletics have now been moved to transportation.

Under the budget, each of the district’s towns would see their school tax burden increase by different amounts. Phippsburg residents would face the largest hike at 10.15%.

“Any year that they increase, it’s mostly to do with the total average subsidizable pupils K-12 in that community,” Manuel told the board of directors March 28. “Phippsburg is the only community that saw an increase in student population from ’21-’22 to ’22-’23. It’s only six students, but that does make a difference when it comes to our cost-sharing formula.”

It’s difficult to know how taxpayers’ property tax bills would change under the proposed budget, school officials said, as rising property evaluations could affect education tax rates.


Manuel stressed that the budget will likely change over the coming weeks and months as the district’s finance committee and school board make adjustments. Some projects may be taken out, while additional funds may be added for new hires.

He cited two priority positions in particular: a dean of students for Morse High School and a response to intervention coordinator who would help the district’s educators close achievement gaps within their schools.

The district has scheduled a public forum on the budget April 4 at 6 p.m. at Morse High School.  After the administration and finance committee tune the spending plan over several weeks, the board of directors will adopt a final version at the end of May before a public referendum June 14.

“We try to strive to provide the best programming for our students and also the best resources for our staff,” Manuel told the board of directors at the meeting. “At the same time, (we’re) trying to be cognizant of the impact that this has on our communities.”

Town Current contributions Contributions under proposed 22-23 budget % change
Arrowsic $533,997 $539,770 1.08%
Bath $11,109,814 $11,379,600 2.43%
Phippsburg $3,124,673 $3,441,808 10.15%
Woolwich $4,576,237 $4,613,834 .82%

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