Edgecomb voters will have another chance to vote on the 2020-21 school budget. On Aug. 29, residents rejected four of 19 school budget articles on the referendum town meeting warrant. Defeated articles included the $3,312,286 total budget, authorization to exceed the Maine’s Essential Programs Service model by $875,000 and two non-lapsing emergency funds which would place $250,000 in a capital improvement fund to repair Edgecomb Eddy School’s roof and $50,000 to cover COVID-19 related costs.
On Sept. 8, the Edgecomb School Committee voted unanimously to present a slightly modified proposal to voters at a special town meeting. The committee is still requesting a $3,312,286 total budget and to exceed the EPS formula, but shelved plans for a $50,000 emergency fund to cover COVID-19 related expenses and $250,000 to repair the school’s 20-year-old roof. Instead, the committee is proposing a $230,000 capital improvement fund to remediate a recently discovered mold problem in the school. The proposal also provides relief to local taxpayers by doubling the amount of surplus slated to offset school spending. The committee proposed using $200,000 out of $565,000 surplus funds toward the budget.
The 16-article warrant was submitted to selectmen Sept. 9. Selectmen approved the warrant during an emergency meeting and set a special town meeting referendum election for 1-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. On Sept. 9, Alternative Organizational Structure 98 Superintendent Dr. Keith Laser explained why the committee didn’t reduce education spending. “The overall budget has to stay the same because we need to educate our kids,” he said. “There is no fluff in this budget and this is what we need to do.”
Besides providing another $100,000 from surplus, the other major warrant change is the mold remediation. School and municipal officials alike supported using up to $250,000 for Edgecomb Eddy roof repairs. But that was before a mold outbreak threatened the opening of school.
On Aug. 8, staff found mold growing on instructional materials in the school lab. Maintenance workers performed an in-depth cleaning of materials and carpet shampooing. An air quality control test followed which discovered mold in the air and outside the room, according to Principal Ira Michaud’s report.
School officials expect mold mitigation costs to run between $187,000 and $230,000. School officials are hoping to recoup mitigation costs through an insurance claim.