RSU 9 starts budget discussions

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FARMINGTON – On Wednesday night, the RSU 9 Board of Directors held a special meeting to discuss the proposed budget draft for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The overall proposed budget is set at $42,028,772, an increase of $2,036,828 or 5.09% from the current fiscal year.

Superintendent Christian Elkington stated that many changes in the budget are due to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds ending in Sept. 2024, and all grant funded positions and stipends will cease at that time. The positions and stipends will not be filled once the ESSER Funding ends unless directed by the Board.

The budget for Regular Instruction is currently $11,576,741, which is an increase of 1.98% over the FY23 level. This is primarily due to an increase in staffing, along with contractual wage and benefit increases. Special Instruction is currently one of the largest instructions in cost with a budget of $8,123,414, which has increased by 8.62%. This increase will include an additional Speech Pathologist, three Ed Techs III positions, training & equipment/supplies, and extra Occupational Therapy services for the new Adaptive Skills Autism Program.

Also included in the budget draft are Student & Staff Services/Support, which includes programs in Guidance, Social Work, Library Media Centers, School Health, Curriculum & Assessment, and Instructional Technology. The budget is set at $3,343,791, with an increase of 12.62%. The biggest increase is under computer leases because previous computer leases were paid for by ESSER funds for the past two years and now need to be covered by district funds. This results in the Instructional Technology Line increasing by $362,000 or 56%.

The budget for Plant Maintenance and Operations is $5,330,014, and has increased by 8.07%. The majority of this budget will be going towards contractual wage and benefit increases, along with various district projects. Approximately $125,000 is included in the budget for a small project and repairs at the W. G. Mallett School, and approximately $45,000 is in the budget to be used to replace the current work van.

Elkington emphasized that this budget is still in draft form and is subject to change over the next several weeks. There will be a Community Budget Forum on April 11 from 6-7 p.m. where community members will be given an opportunity to ask questions regarding the proposed budget, and there will be several review sessions before the final Board discussion and adoption of the budget at the April 25 Board meeting.

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