Wiscasset School Committee

School budget offer flat on taxes

Committee accepts Wilmot’s resignation with regret
Posted:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 8:15am

The Wiscasset School Committee finalized its budget April 10. Superintendent of Schools Heather Wilmot announced two adjustments which together decreased the budget by $81,455.29.

The two cost centers with decreases included school administration, which decreased by $45.751.15, and health insurance and benefits, which fell by $35,704.14. These changes dropped the total budget to $9,838,789.96, an increase of 2.26 percent over last year’s budget.

However, the committee pared a pending $203,670 capital reserve down to $84,348.79, removing a projected $119,321 tax hike in education.

Member Glen Craig disagreed with the decision. Craig, who was unable to attend the budget workshop that preceded the meeting, objected to keeping the $84,348.79 in the reserve budget at all. “If we need it, we should go to the selectmen and get a bond,” he said. “Money is cheap, and it makes no sense to hold on to these funds.”

Director of Transportation and Maintenance John Merry strongly objected to removing the entire reserve fund. “We’re going to need a new roof and a new boiler,” he said. “It could be a year, it could happen earlier than that.”

“We should have budgeted for that,” Craig said.

“There were other priorities,” Merry countered.

In the end, Craig was the lone vote against the budget. It passed, 4-1.

Wilmot said she would present the budget to the town budget committee on Wednesday, April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Town Office, and discuss the budget with the select board April 17.

Wilmot projected there would be 28 to 35 kindergartners at Wiscasset Elementary School this fall, and 18 preschoolers, although there are spaces available for 30 students, and enrollment will remain open throughout the summer.

An energy kickoff meeting took place April 9, with Wilmot, Merry, Senior Project Manager Brian Rancort from Siemens, and a comprehensive team who discussed expectations on safety, communication, and additional meetings.

Several new staff members came on board this month, including Educational Technician III Kathleen Siegars, middle school softball coach Kelly Willey and middle school track coach Jacob McCarthy.

The committee accepted with regret Wilmot's resignation effective June 30.

At 5:30 p.m. June 12, there will be a celebration honoring retiring staff. The public is invited. The regular school committee meeting will follow.

Selectwoman Katharine Martin-Savage had some questions about the search for the new superintendent. “Is it possible to combine this job with another one, like a curriculum director position?”

“We’ll do anything that makes sense,” Chair Michael Dunn said.

Martin-Savage also asked about the regional special education program. Wilmot said the government grant would eventually go away, but by then the town should have enough money from the various participating towns.