July 16, 2020

Board approves MDI High budget> Proposal shows hike for 3 island towns

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — The Mount Desert Island High School budget plan approved by the school board Monday night shows an almost 4 percent increase over this year’s budget.

The budget for the 1997-98 school year — approved at $3,557,763 — is set for a vote by island residents at the annual meeting Feb. 12. The total includes $21,893 for the adult education program.

The budget proposal would mean slight increases in assessments for Bar Harbor, Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, and a slight decrease for Tremont.

Included in the budget are funds to hire a part-time cooperative education teacher and a half-time instructor in computer education. The budget adds two additional paid days for professional development of teachers, additional days during the summer for work by the secretary in the guidance office and by the librarian, and includes money for some additional administrative duties by the athletic director. A total of $13,300 has been included in the special education budget for psychological testing services.

Those additions, including two other minor changes, represent $76,366 of the total budget.

The revenue side of the budget had some welcome news, with a “windfall” in the health insurance category, some carryover of unspent funds, and an unanticipated $50,000 in additional tuition payments, according to Superintendent Howard Colter. The school system receives only the minimum in state subsidy, with the total next year expected to be $63,000.

Assessments are based 67 percent on a community’s state valuation and 33 percent on its enrollment. The town of Mount Desert’s per-pupil cost is nearly double its next-richest neighbor, Bar Harbor, owing to Mount Desert’s high valuation and relatively low student population.

For next year, Mount Desert will have the largest increase in assessment of the four towns, an increase now estimated at about 1.18 percent. With 90 high school students and the highest state valuation on the island — set at $614,350,000 for 1997 — the town will pay an additional $11,308 next year. With an assessment at $969,010 for next year, the town’s per-pupil cost could be about $10,766, if the budget is approved as proposed on Feb. 12.

Next year’s assessment for Bar Harbor will be $1.1 million, the highest of the four towns, and an amount that represents a less than 1 percent increase over the current year’s assessment. With a state valuation of $522,650,000 and 202 students — the highest enrollment of the towns — its per-pupil cost could be about $5,476.

For Southwest Harbor, the assessment is now set for next year at $484,941, up .3 percent. Its state valuation is $222,100,000, and the town sends 93 students to the high school, making the per-pupil cost for Southwest Harbor about $5,214.

Tremont will see its assessment decrease by less than 1 percent, with the total set at $347,134. With the lowest state valuation of the four towns — $154,850,000 — and 72 students, its per-pupil cost could be about $4,821.

Residents on Feb. 12 will also vote on a separate warrant article that would allow the school to spend up to $19,600 for costs associated with two incoming special education students. Any unspent funds would go into the reserve account, Colter said.

Also Monday, the school board approved the tuition rates that can be charged home-schooled students who reside outside the school district, a move that brings the high school in compliance with state statute.

Tuition to be charged an out-of-district home-schooler for each credit hour is now set at $608. Charges for participating in athletic and extracurricular drama and music programs vary according to the actual costs of the program. Presently those range from a low of $135 for music to a high of $435 for the swim team. All tuition charges will vary with each academic year.

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