April 08, 2020

SAD 29 braces for drop in educational funding> Expected enrollment decline means cut in state money

HOULTON — Faced with the possibility of getting less money from the state next year, the SAD 29 board will begin budget discussions Jan. 26 for the 1998-99 school year.

Superintendent of Schools David Wiggin reported Monday night that the district faces a possible loss of more than $141,000 in state funding. The decrease, he said, is due to the fact that district enrollment is projected to decline by 34 students next year.

State funding is based in part on the number of children enrolled in a school system.

As yet, the Legislature also has not made a decision on hardship funding to school districts. The money is provided to systems that suffer an unusually heavy loss in state aid. It is intended to reduce the impact.

SAD 29 received about $126,500 in hardship money last year, but Wiggin said he did not know how much, if any, the district can expect for next year.

On a more positive note, Wiggin said the district has paid off its share of the Southern Aroostook Vocational Education building in Houlton, which will mean the district will have less debt service to pay.

The state also is considering increasing its share of school funding by 5 percent next year, which could help the district, Wiggin said.

Likewise, the state valuation of the district increased by 1.8 percent, less than the state average of 1.9 percent. Because of that, the district could get more money from the state since its overall valuation increased less than the state average.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Wiggin told school board members. “One thing you can assume from this is we won’t be receiving more money, or a lot more money, because of our declining enrollment.”

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