Edgecomb reviews rise in regular, special ed tuition costs

Education budget up nearly 11 percent due to rising tuition costs
Wed, 02/06/2019 - 3:45pm

Unexpected tuition costs are the main culprits in an Edgecomb school budget up nearly 11 percent for Fiscal Year 20. Principal Ira Michaud presented the budget's first draft Feb. 4 during the Edgecomb School Committee meeting. His proposal is a $3,183,840 budget which represents a 10.9 percent increase.

In the proposed budget, elementary, secondary and special education tuition costs all show sharp increases. Elementary tuition rises by $30,190 to a projected $329,175. Secondary tuition increases from $530,379 to $613,966. Special education tuition increases the most. It increases by $101,977 to $606,763 for FY 20.

“The rise is due to an unexpected number of people moving into town. We are still looking at the budget and looking for ways to make an adjustment,” said Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent of Schools Keith Laser. Another increase also took the school committee by surprise. The AOS requested a $10,000 increase for providing school lunches. Meals are produced in Boothbay Harbor and delivered to the Edgecomb school five days per week. Laser explained the increase is due to higher pay and an improved benefits package for a district employee. “A CSD (community school district) employee is used to serve lunch. The increase doesn’t even cover all the costs associated with the service’s rise in labor costs,” Laser said.

In other action, Michaud updated committee members about recent school events. A Maine Math and Science Alliance consultant met with Michaud and teacher Jennifer Gosselin about data collection and using it to analyze multiple sources for improved instruction.

“She was impressed we were so engaged in this work since our school performed so well compared to the state average in math and literacy,” Michaud said. “This aligns with our goals set in our Comprehensive Needs Assessment which we sent to the state last summer.”

The Science Club hosted a meeting Feb. 4 with Maine Science Volunteers who taught an exploratory lesson on brine shrimp. On Feb. 12, fourth graders will participate in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing for either math or literacy. NAEP is the only assessment that measures what U.S. students know and can do in various subjects across the nation. The test is given to a representative sample of students across the country, according to NAEP’s website.

Michaud also announced that sixth grader Ismael Martinez won last week’s spelling bee. Classmate Lei Bercasio and fourth grader Isabella Morton joined him in the top three. Martinez and Bercasko will compete on Feb. 12 at the County Bee.

Students and parents are participating in the school’s climate survey. School officials are seeking opinions about parents’ and students’ attitude about the educational climate in the pre-kindergarten through grade six school. The survey has 15 questions. The first questions asks  “Does your child like school?" The participant gets four choices ranging from strongly agrees to strongly disagrees.  Michaud will share results once the survey is complete and he’s reviewed the responses with school staff.

The committee accepted Sherri Holbrook’s resignation as an educational technician III, effective Feb. 8. Laser didn’t know if the committee planned to fill the job vacancy. The committee also approved an updated emergency school management plan. The last agenda item was an executive session on labor contracts with the Edgecomb Education Association. Laser reported the committee took no action following the session.