'The hardest budget we've ever faced'

April 4, 2013

Politics makes budget math difficult for AOS 92

Superintendent Eric Haley says developing budgets remains difficult in light of state revenue sharing uncertainty

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Winslow and Vassalboro schools are both facing less than a 1 percent increase in their proposed school budgets for 2013-14.

The numbers are preliminary at this point, according to Eric Haley, superintendent of Alternative Organization Structure 92, which also includes Waterville schools.

Officials trying to develop school budgets are struggling because they do not yet know whether municipalities will be asked to help fund teacher retirement and whether state revenue sharing will be suspended.

Haley said he received school subsidy reports, but he is still trying to analyze them.

While there are a lot of "ifs" and unknowns in the budgets in terms of subsidy, revenue sharing and teacher retirement, one thing is certain, Haley said Thursday: "This is my thirteenth year of being (Waterville) superintendent, and this is the hardest budget we've ever faced."

Waterville schools are working with a proposed $20.1 million budget for 2013-14. The budget represents a $458,519 increase over the current $19.7 million budget, or 2.32 percent.

Those numbers also are preliminary, Haley said. Increases are represented in such items as insurance, salaries, energy and high school renovation payments.

The proposed Vassalboro school budget is $6.63 million, a 0.63 percent, or $41,508, increase from the current $6.59 million budget, Haley and School Finance Director Paula Pooler said Thursday. Increases are represented in items that include insurance, salaries, and energy costs.

"We'll be paying 24 cents a gallon (of oil) over last year," Haley said. "We may be able to get it cheaper."

Officials predicted medical insurance premiums would increase 10 percent, but it turned out to be 13 percent, he said.

The proposed Winslow school budget is $13.5 million, or an increase of $105,299 over the current $13.4 million budget. The increase is 0.79 percent. Again, numbers are preliminary, he said.

Haley said officials have tried to be conservative with spending, but revenues are hurting schools.

"The loss of school revenue coming at us from every direction is killing us," he said.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com

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