Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 21, 2013
DIS school board eyes first draft of budget
Up 3.26 percent
by Jessica Brophy
Union 76 Superintendent Mark Jenkins shared a first draft of the 2013-14 school budget with the school board at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 6.
The rough draft represents a 3.26 percent increase in the budget, a $215,000 increase from last year’s budget to a total of $6,828,000. Jenkins said he hopes to trim the increase down to 3 percent in later drafts.
How much money the school system will receive from the state is still up in the air, though a 2011 tweak to the school funding formula may result in a more than $120,000 increase to the school system’s state subsidy.
Potential increases to the budget include a few changes at the high school. Nearly $35,000 is tentatively budgeted for participation in the Maine Learning Technology’s Initiative laptop program. Technology coordinator Markus Ford said the high school’s current netbooks need to be retired. While the MLTI program cost is not yet finalized, Ford and high school principal Todd West said it made sense for the school to buy in to the program.
West is requesting a .88 full-time equivalent study hall monitor to free up teachers from study hall duty so they can spend more time prepping for their classes. Likewise, West is requesting an increase from half-time to four days per week of a librarian aide to help oversee the library, with the elementary school’s librarian coming to the high school one day per week. The goal there is also to free up teachers from having to cover the library when the aide is not available. Enrollment at the high school is expected to decline from 134 this year to 118 next year.
Elementary school principal Mike Benjamin said staffing and programming for the elementary school is expected to remain mostly unchanged. School enrollment at the elementary school is expected to go from 215 to 230 next year.
Adult & Community Education assistant director Heather Wren described plans for adult education, which include a doubling of the capacity for the Certified Nursing Assistant program. A new Hospitality Program will help teach basic business skills, business math, basic computing, work etiquette, how to answer phones and other skills to help train Island residents for jobs available in the community in the service industry.
The board then discussed budget scheduling. Jenkins wants to conduct budget-building within the regular monthly meetings, scheduling additional meetings if needed. This means members of the public who wish to give input into the budget should attend April’s school board meeting.
The board also discussed spacing out the island-wide budget meeting and the island-wide vote on the budget referendum. Typically, the meeting is held on a Thursday with the vote the following Tuesday. Newly-reelected board chairman Mark Cormier said after last year’s budget referendum, the board decided to try to get a news cycle between the meeting and the referendum.
In other business, the board continued its discussion of school safety. Benjamin said new safety locks are being installed in the elementary school to make it easier to quickly lock classroom doors. Training lockdowns for both the elementary and high schools are planned in cooperation with the county sheriff’s office and the state police.
When asked whether local fire departments would be invited to the lockdown drills, Benjamin said the sheriff’s office declined to include them in the drills.
Vaughn asked whether short- or long-term substitutes receive the same training on lockdown and safety procedures. Benjamin said that subs are walked through procedures at the time of hire.
Board member Stephen York asked whether Jenkins had contacted the school bus company to talk to them about concerns with safety and bussing.
Jenkins said he had not and reminded the board the bus contract runs through 2013-14 and will be renegotiated next year.
The board next meets on Tuesday, April 2, at 5:30 p.m. at the high school cafeteria.