RSU 9 holds public forum on draft budget

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FARMINGTON – Prior to the Board of Directors meeting, the board held a public forum on Tuesday, April 11, where members of the community were given an opportunity to ask questions regarding the draft budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

In Article 4 of the draft budget, it is stated that the social worker positions have been adjusted to actual costs. Director Laura Columbia provided more information regarding the social worker adjustments.

In order to adjust the two social worker positions, the funding that was allocated for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst/Behavior Teacher was turned into social work. The social worker that was originally allocated for grades 3-5 that was split between Academy Hill School and Cascade Brooks School was then adjusted for one social worker to be at each school. This change has allowed for every school in the district to have a social worker in the building.

Superintendent Christian Elkington noted during his report that there are a large number of people applying for positions in the district. Elkington believes that this is due to the board making a concerted effort to improve salaries.

“We’re very excited about these highly qualified people applying for professional positions, more so than we have seen in the last few years,” Elkington said. “We’ve lost a lot of good people who are retiring or who have decided to leave the profession this year, so it’s very hopeful with the people we are seeing who are applying for positions.”

The board then moved to review the budget draft, and Director Richard Ruhlin asked the board if there would be a future agenda item at a subsequent meeting regarding the sharing of one piece of technology between two younger students. Previously the student-to-technology ratio for younger students was 1:1, but this was primarily due to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding which is set to end by Sept. 2024.

Elkington noted that the technology is not sent home with the students, but they are used in the classroom. He also stated that shared machines for younger students can encourage communication and problem-solving, however, the Technology Committee has the final decision on whether or not to use shared devices.

The draft of town assessments has been reviewed, with the 5-year average being under 2%. The district will take the three-year average of evaluations or the previous year’s state evaluation, depending on which number is lower for the district. The board’s biggest concern is that evaluations have changed over the last year, so there are numbers that have not been seen in years that are now appearing on the evaluations.

Elkington stated that many of these changes in the local assessment are due to the amount of aid the district receives. Depending on the amount of money and funding they receive, they can say that the district will have to pay more in order to get state allocation. The number for RSU 9 went up by $500,000, and it continues to play into the total local number.

This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and is available for viewing online at MtBlueTV.org

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