Saturday, July 18, 2009

RSU 12, Sheepscot Valley Budget Adoption Meeting Liveblog

RSU 12 budget meeting started @ 10 a.m. I arrived late, just as the first article, Regular Instruction, comes up for approval. Article One asks residents to approve $12,889,329. The combined school total for 08-09 is $12,549,249.

A Wiscasset resident wants to know why the k-2 line item is rising $249,721. Greg Potter allowed that the difference is due to the need for estimate combinations of schools. Whitefield rep says the difference comes at least in part from a half-time ed tech in the Wiscasset elementary position.

Still on article one Contingency fund is being questioned by a Windsor resident. At least part of it will go to Alternative Education and make up for the fact that Jefferson will not be part of the RSU and its contribution to an Alt. Ed. program will not be available.

11:58--Resident of ??? wonders why the teachers are getting a "premium plan" for teachers when "people in this room don't have any insurance at all." She's a middle aged woman who looks seriously aggrieved. She's complaining about the hypothetical situation of a 20-student second grade that might be split into two ten-student classes. She asks how many teachers in the whole system? 127. How many ed techs? Need to look it up. Why don't we have a line item? She wants to know how much each teacher gets paid. "You have it," she says.

12:03--Westport Island resident wonders about how the fiscal year will adjust to fit the new contractual year.

12:09--Attempt to finish debate. Fails.

12:09--Steve Smith, Whitefield, asks about teacher salaries. How will negotiations take place? Are there plans to equalize or raise to highest plane? Potter says, "It will be process."

12:11--Looking for some controls, "consensus of the group" to limit questions to three with a maximum of three minutes. Overwhelmingly and loudly approved.

12:14--Donald Barrett from Palermo, speaks briefly against limiting debate. Wants us to vote the whole thing down. "We should be voting zero for this whole thing...we won't have things crammed down our throat." He says as a Palermo school board member he was "coerced" into voting for consolidation. "We don't have to do this."

12:17--Barrett still talking. "Is there any indication that the quality of education will improve is we spend more money?"

12:17--Andrea Lani speaks regarding class size. "To quibble over class size is a waste of time." Lani describes the previous grumpy woman's complaint about approving health insurance as "cruel," adding that the teachers are "heroes...and members of our community." Big hand for Andrea.

12:21--Grumpy woman, Ms. Larrabee, "We're not downing the's not personal against the teachers or the kids." She gets a smattering of applause.

12:22--Using the yellow card method--Article 1 passes.

12:25--Article 2, Special Education. Ms. Larrabee asks about what Gifted and Talented is.

12:27--Wiscasset residence, questions new director of Special Services and increase in secretary's salary.

12:31--Numbers, 2100 students; 300 special services; 84 gifted and talented.

12:32--Donald Barrett, Palermo. Farmer who asked voters to reject the whole plan, asks what the increase will be in the next two years. Potter: the projection has not been completed yet. Barret: "If I was running a business that would be poor planning." Ugh! What a pill. Time! Vote zero is his only message.

12:36--Windsor resident with an autistic son, speaks in passionate favor of his child's teachers. "It's not just a job to them."

12:27--Question moved.

12:28--Article 2 passed.

12:39--Article 3 $191,025 Career and Technical Education passes with only the smattering of naysayers, zero-funders. No discussion.

12:40--Article 4 $370,111 Other Instruction, including co-curricular stipends, drama, math team and teacher leader etc.

12:41--Student and Staff Support $1,523,866 Guidance, health, instructional tech, improvement of instruction.

12:48--Amendment to excise $52,028 from item, taking it back to simple total of school system past expenditure.

12:58--Amendment to excise $23,866 from the item. Vote unclear, needs counting. Three board members want it reduced. Second motion to reduce fails.

1:05--System Administration $845,740. K(C)urt Downer of Westport proposes $150,000 for a consultant who can make sense of the consolidation.

1:11--Reasonable man says it's not a bad idea, even suggested looking at other states who have been through similar straits.

1:13--Downer defends his idea. Seems like one that should have been decided, oh, say, a year ago. Amendment fails miserably.

1:15--Pleasant, reasonable woman asks how many administrators were in the systems before consolidation; what building and maintenance costs have been reduced by closing. One building been closed, sold. Wiscasset superintendent building is closed; it is now owned by the Town of Wiscasset.

1:18--School Administration $1,282,988; small increase in benefits equals including families in health insurance in the Wiscasset schools.

1:21--Betty Larrabee again. "How can you negotiate contracts when you don't know how much money you will have?"

1:29--Teachers Karen McCormick of Whitefield and Deb Pooler of Wiscasset question the volunteer coordinator's salary of $9,000. Pooler wants to know about the ed tech numbers, and suggests using the staff that's in place.

1:33--Amendment made to reduce article by $25,000. Amendment fails.

1:35--A Wiscasset school nurse asks whether the $9,000 will be one or two positions. No one on the board seems to know.

[Getting hungry. I'm also irritated at the property tax-centric nutjobs.]

1:39--Article 8 Transportation and Buses $1,464,451
Rep. Lisa Miller of Somerville says she is a legislator and voted for this in part because of transportation savings. She wants to know what savings could be found. Board member says the State will be providing software to simplify the Byzantine bus schedules.

1:44--Windsor resident wants to know how many buses? Over 50 is the answer. He suggests using "magnetic signs" rather than paint since "this going to be voted down in November."

1:46--Art. 8 passed.

1:47--Article 9 Facilities and Maintenance $2,68,628 passed.

1:48--Article 10 Debt Service and other Commitments $743,756 passed.

1:49--Article 11 All Other Expenditures Inc. Lunch (Ick) $223,489 passed.

1:52--Article 12 To see what funds towns will have to raise $8,369,603.05 passed.

1:53--Article 13 Debt Service for non-state-funded portions of school construction projects and minor capital projects. Board recommends $76,715. Passed.

1:56--Article 14 Direct motion to change suggested amount from $4,846,581.55.

1:59--I said it's not about taxes. Got hissed and booed.

2:07--Good ol' boy just reminded us of the cost of prison.

2:08--Kristin (missed her last name) has a lien on her house and is a school employee, her lien is due to the economy. "This is how it is everywhere, cutting the knees off the education" is not going to help.

2:10--Blather about the mechanics of "carry over."

2:15--Woman says, "It's real easy to cut the kids," and not so easy to cut town services.

2:21--Motion to increase to amount given is approved. Voting by secret ballot on original motion.

2:31--Article 14 passed by secret ballot.

2:34--Articles 15/16, housekeeping articles, pass without discussion.

2:35--Article 17 passes.

Adjourned at 2:35.

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