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Letter from the School Board Chair - Budget 2015-2016 information

posted Mar 18, 2015, 12:34 PM by Susan Conley   [ updated Mar 19, 2015, 6:22 AM by Dawna Green ]

Maine School Administrative District #51

Cumberland ~ North Yarmouth

www.msad51.org • P. O. Box 6A Cumberland, ME  04021• Phone 207-829-4800 • Fax 207-829-4802

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

To the MSAD #51 Community,

Although today feels much like a winter day, the snow has begun to melt, the sun is higher in the sky, and our thoughts turn hopefully to the coming of spring.  In our school community, spring ushers in a new sports season, spring concerts and plans for our students to prepare for their next year of classes.  It is also the time when our district prepares and presents the annual school budget to our two communities.  Monday night Superintendent Jeff Porter rolled out the 2015-2016 school budget for initial review by the board, staff, and community members.  I would like to highlight for you some of the challenges, as well as some of the opportunities, this budget presents.

As Jeff outlined in his presentation, our district has lost $642,418 in state funding this year.  This reduction is caused by several factors:  a decrease of $232,000 due to debt retirement of the Mabel I. Wilson School; a decrease in the bus subsidy line of $120,000;  approximately $290,000 reduction due to a state mil rate increase from 8.1% to 8.48%, and a modest 2 year enrollment decline.  In addition, as anticipated, the Chebeague Island debt service payment also declined this year by approximately $46,000.  Thus, we are experiencing a revenue reduction of $688,635 going into the new budget year.

These losses in revenue were offset somewhat by the Administration’s decision to apply an additional $100,000 from fund balance and $50,000 additional revenue from the following sources; our finance department’s ability to take on accounting functions for the Andover school department; revenues generated by facility usage fees; and Medicare/Medicaid third party billings.  All totaled, we expect a total loss in revenue of approximately $538,600.

On the expenditure side, our District Administration and Leadership team have held the line on existing expenses by reducing staff at Greely Middle School 4-5 by one teaching position due to lower enrollments anticipated in the 4th and 5th grades next year. Two staff positions were also reallocated from Greely Middle School 6-8 to Greely High School in response to the large 8th grade class exiting Greely Middle but entering Greely High.  Additionally, due to the Energy Services contract we entered into with Siemens last year, all energy lines were able to be budgeted without an increase.  

Even with these efforts, we anticipate a 3.6% ($1,179,662) increase in expenditures.  This increase is largely due to fixed costs such as contracted salary and benefit increases.  In addition, we have budgeted a 9% increase for health insurance costs this year and although that number has not been finalized by our insurance carrier yet, we expect it to hold based on plan usage.  Finally, there was an additional shift by the state to local districts for expenses associated with the Maine PERS retirement system of approximately $170,000.  Total new requests in next year’s budget for unmet needs equal approximately $316,000 or less than 1% of the total budget.

During the budgeting process our District Leadership Team developed a list of unmet needs totalling approximately $1.1 million for review by the Finance Committee.  The vast majority of these unmet needs could not be funded due to the cost shift from the state, our contractual obligations, and our flattening enrollment.  But what are the opportunities presented by this budget?  Included in the new requests are several items that will benefit our students and staff in the new year.  The largest of these is $124,000 to fund 2 additional staff at the Greely High School to meet our mandated Response to Intervention requirements and increased enrollment; $40,000 to purchase a new math curriculum in grades K-5 that is better aligned with state standards, $60,000 for an Educational Interpreter, $15,000 for 504 evaluations, and $58,000 for technology.  Smaller additions to the budget include increased nursing hours at the Greely Middle School 4-8, and monies to support new teacher orientations.

Community members will have several opportunities to share thoughts and ideas on the budget in the upcoming weeks.  Jeff’s presentation, complete budget documents, and the full list of budget hearing dates can be found on our district website; www.msad51.org, under the Budget link.  These documents will be updated as needed, and will be available throughout the budget season.  

Thank you for your active engagement and participation in the budget process, our ability to fund our schools has a direct effect on teaching and learning in our district.


Karen Campbell

MSAD #51 Board Chair