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News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 15, 2014
Penobscot School Board
State subsidy for 2014 could “cure a wealth of ills”

by Anne Berleant

When the 126th Legislature adjourned May 2, the state school subsidy for Penobscot was set at $97,017, about $23,000 higher than the school board budgeted for in 2014-15.

This would “cure a wealth of ills as far as the revenue side of the Penobscot budget,” said Superintendent Mark Hurvitt when the school board met on May 12.

“How trustworthy are [the numbers]?” new board member Charlie Brenton wondered.

“There’s a little word [called] ‘curtailment,’” Hurvitt said, referring to the possibility of future budget cuts to balance a possible state shortfall, as was done in December 2012.

With a 2013-14 school budget frozen on January 17, funds are “really, really tight” for expenditures, Hurvitt said, and a special town meeting will be needed to transfer funds from “healthy” budget lines to the special education and transportation lines which are 5 percent over budget.

The “good news” is that the budget will be $64,000 “to the good” based on this year’s state subsidy, Hurvitt said.

The carry-forward—or money left in the budget when the fiscal year ends on June 30—is estimated at a low $8,500. Carry-forward funds may be used as revenue two budget years ahead, as the next year’s budget is approved before the current fiscal year ends. Last year, that number was about $14,000.

In other business, the April 1 enrollment report shows 13 Penobscot students are homeschooled, 69 attend pre-K through eighth grade at Penobscot Community School, and five attend Bay School. Penobscot sends 39 high school students to George Stevens Academy and three to Bucksport.

“You’re doing something right,” Hurvitt remarked to GSA Head of School Paul Perkinson, who was present at the meeting to give his monthly report.

GSA’s senior class “is steaming in a rather speedy way towards graduation,” Perkinson said.

Graduation at GSA is Sunday, June 8, at 1 p.m. Penobscot graduation follows on Thursday, June 12, at 1:30 p.m.

Who threw a rock that broke the library school window in April? There are no leads, Principal Allen Cole said. The window is being fixed, but “our deductible will be greater than the [cost of the] repair.”

Finally, Penobscot will say farewell to Assistant Custodian Skip Bean with a special Penobscot Coffee House and Music Buffet on Saturday, May 17, at the school, with a potluck beginning at 6:30 p.m.