April 04, 2020

SAD 48 gearing up for budget talks

NEWPORT — Sessions of the SAD 48 budget committee will be especially important this year, according to Superintendent William Braun.

That’s because the town faces a potential loss of $270,000 in state subsidy and projected cost increases of $290,000.

The budget committee will begin discussions of budget alternatives at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, in the Nokomis Regional High School library.

Directors rescheduled the meeting to that date following a lengthy executive session Tuesday night. As a result six of the district’s administrators were named to continuing contracts, with at least three remaining for a future meeting.

Contracts were approved for Lyford Beverage, Nokomis principal; Ted Boyce, St. Albans and Palmyra principal; Fred Raynes, assistant to the superintendent; Don Hill, Newport principal; Skip Winslow, Nokomis assistant principal; and Virginia Secor, Chapter I director.

Focusing on the budget concerns, Braun is visiting with staff members across the district to warn them of the likely outcome of budget deliberations — staff reductions.

“When 80 percent of your budget is personnel, as is true of any public service business, where else can you cut?” Braun said.

In recent years, SAD 48 has survived losses in state subsidy by offering incentives for early retirement and hiring less-experienced personnel. Newer personnel are paid less, but that leaves the district with fewer people on the higher end of the pay scale and ready for retirement, Braun said.

What complicates the issue further, he said, is the delay in capital outlay in recent years.

“We have roofs and furnaces that need to be replaced. We keep repainting buildings that should be sided. There’s paving to be done,” he said.

Citing individual school roofs that are in need of repair or replacement, he said, “What happens if it all comes down and ruins books and computers? It gets to the point where the forecast of loss is worse than the repair loss.”

Tuesday night, directors heard a brief presentation on the Honeywell School Program. Jim Lucy, Honeywell representative, outlined a no-cost study by his company to design new lighting and heating systems designed to have no increased cost to the district. The proposal was referred to the building committee.

After the executive session, directors discussed proposed changes in an extracurricular policy for Nokomis Regional High School. In recent weeks, the policy was criticized as too stringent in its punishment for first-time offenses of smoking and drinking. Directors, however, were not interested in promoting leniency. The board voted down proposals to allow 10- and 20-day suspensions for students who violate the no-smoking and no-drinking rules for the first time.

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