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Originally published in Castine Patriot, December 12, 2013
Adams School board reviews security upgrades, hears budget snapshot

by Anne Berleant

School board members convened on December 4 with a short meeting agenda. Superintendent Mark Hurvitt reviewed the school budget as it looks now: “All cost centers are very dicey.”

The central office runs a summary of accounts to give a snapshot of how the budget looks after the first three months of the year. The budget is split into cost centers that include repairs and maintenance, transportation, elementary instruction and special education. If the school overspends more than 5 percent of one cost center, it requires a special town meeting vote to transfer funds from a different, financially healthy cost center.

“We knew this was going to be a tight budget,” Hurvitt said.

He cited repairs and maintenance, with $7,143 spent out of $9,000, as one cost center that may exceed the limit for overspending by June 30, 2014, the end of the budget year.

With an estimated $47,000 in state funds—the annual subsidy plus funds to help initiate proficiency-based learning—“we’re going to be in the black,” by the end of the budget year, Hurvitt said.

The summary of accounts also gives the board an idea of how much money will be left in the budget to carryover into future years. Usually, “carryforward” funds are applied two years ahead because the upcoming year’s budget is passed before the current year is complete.

For example, the carryforward for 2013-14 will be known by June 30, 2014, over a month after the 2014-15 budget is approved by the board and voted on at town meeting.

At this time, the estimated carryforward, which includes the state subsidy from 2013-14 will be $26,145, but it’s “all a guessing game,” Hurvitt said.

“We just don’t have the flush budget and we know that,” he said. “The town knows that too.”

Principal Katie Frothingham reported the latest security upgrade: a new padlock on the side entrance door. The front door buzzer security system is in place. The next step is surveillance cameras.

Last month, board member Joe Spinazola met with the Historic Preservation Commission, which approved new front exterior lighting. At the time, he apprised them that security cameras would be installed, with safety being the school’s primary focus. The commission must approve exterior changes that affect the view from public streets to all buildings that lie within the historic district, as the Adams School does.

Frothingham also reported a new approach to school pictures. She and teacher Heather Trainor snapped the portraits outside, and offered packages, including sibling photos and an email-only option, at a lower cost than in previous years. “We want it to be affordable,” Frothingham said.

The response has been higher than in the past, she added.

“If the quality is not what it should be, we’ll rethink it,” she said. Class photos will also be printed and distributed, separate from the paid package option.

“Our goal is that every child should have a picture,” she said.

The switch was necessitated by school photographer Rosemary Wyman retiring last year.

Trainor, who teaches first and second grade, will be on maternity leave starting January 2. Katie Bears has been hired as a long-term substitute to replace her.

In action items, the board approved the enrollment of two non-resident students who qualify as children of a school employee—bus driver Renee Paulauskus. School population stands at 51 students.