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May 11, 2015
 
 Budget Adopted by School Board...Expected to be Reduced

 How much is the school budget for next year?
At the last meeting of the Board of Directors, the budget for FY16 was adopted.  The budget approved on May 7, 2015 is for $38,126,427.  This amount included over $1.2 million in expenditures for charter schools and represents an overall increase in the total local share of $1,772,327 (8.27%).  It is expected, however, that this amount will be reduced when presented to the public at the Orion Performing Arts Center on May 21st.
 
Throughout the budget process, the Finance Committee has consistently communicated its intent to develop the budget including charter school funding, and remove it if the formula changed.  Today, the Governor signed the bill that will fund charter schools as if each were a separate entity rather than through the local district.
 
What does this mean?
The signature of the Governor makes this change law immediately, so the $1.2 million built into our FY16 budget will be removed, thus reducing the total budget.
 
What will the revised budget total?
The Board will move to amend the budget down to a total of $36,922,143.  This reduces the overall increase in the total local share down to $568,041, which is an increase in the local share of only 2.65%.
 
How does this work?
Because the Board approved a budget of $38,126,427 with the required warrant amounts, that amount is what must be initially presented to the public at the District Budget Meeting on May 21st at the Orion.  After moving the budget, the Board will then move to “amend” each warrant article affected by charter school funding to a lower amount.  Those attending will be asked to vote on the amendment, and then on the amended amount. If those at the Orion agree, four warrant articles will be reduced by the $1.2 million bringing the total budget down to $36,922,143, for an increase to the local share of $568,041 split between the four towns.
 
Why this sudden change?
This is what we have communicated consistently since the start of the budget development.  It was only prudent to keep that amount in the budget as long as the District was obligated to pay it. We know all too well that politics can take last-minute twists and turns.  Now that it is finalized, however, we are confident in reducing the budget accordingly.
 
Did the Finance Committee and Board listen to the community?
Absolutely!  Your School Board members are the elected officials responsible for presenting a budget, and ensuring that we provide an appropriate education to the children of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell, and Topsham.  They heard from parents at each of the seven schools.  They listened to the town officials in a meeting held specifically for that purpose. They listened to citizens at public forums. They interact with their neighbors and town residents and have acted accordingly.  The Board has fulfilled its obligation to develop a budget the members believe ensures the quality of programs and services our students deserve, considers the impact of our budget on all taxpayers, and looks to the future.
 
What’s next?
The District Budget Meeting will be held on May 21st in the Orion at 6:30 pm. Whatever amount those in attendance approve is the budget that must be presented to the voters on June 9th.  These two dates, May 21st and June 9th, are important decision-making events.  We highly encourage you to participate.
 
Closing thoughts:
While the Governor’s signature allows the Board to reduce the budget accordingly, there are still actions pending in the legislation that could ultimately change the amount of subsidy the District receives from the State.  If that happens after our budget meeting, then any additional funds we might receive will be put into fund balance, helping our financial position in the future.

This has been a difficult budget.  As it stands, there is an increase from the State in the required mill rate to the local voters.  There is also an obligation to pay a significant amount of money toward Teachers Retirement that was placed on school districts in 2013.  We also have to fund architectural fees to begin the Mt. Ararat High School project, most of which will be reimbursed if that project receives voter approval at a future referendum. 
 
I wish to express my gratitude to members of the Finance Committee, chaired by Linda Hall, and the other members of the MSAD No. 75 Board of Directors for their continued dedication to the students and communities we serve. 
 
Bradley V. Smith
Superintendent of Schools



 
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