MOUNT DESERT — “The boilers at MDES (Mount Desert Elementary School) are on their last legs,” school system Superintendent Marc Gousse told the Mount Desert school committee on March 3.
“Both of the boilers recently failed,” he said. “So, we went from two boilers to no boilers to wondering whether we would be able to continue in school.”
Gousse said Leon Sargent, the school’s maintenance and transportation director, was able to “patch something together with older parts he had wisely retained and some resources from other schools in the district.”
“We are reasonably confident we can limp through the end of the [school] year with what we have, but we really should look at replacing those boilers sooner rather than later,” he said.
On Gousse’s recommendation, the school committee voted to replace the two boilers and their circulator pumps this summer at an estimated cost of $130,000. The money will be taken from the school’s building maintenance account that, by the end of the fiscal year, will have balance of about $238,000.
Gousse said the school’s existing boilers, which are about 20 years old, consume about seven-and-a-half gallons of #2 fuel oil per hour.
“That is not very efficient,” he said. “The boilers we’re looking to replace them with are extremely efficient.”
The cost of replacing the boilers is included in the school’s $4.98 million budget for next year, which the school committee approved on March 3. But that expense will not increase the town’s appropriation for the school because it will be covered by money the school already has in reserve.
The town’s appropriation will be $4.16 million, an increase of 8.35 percent.
Excluding the cost of replacing the boilers, next year’s budget is $386,736 more than the budget for the current year, an increase of 8.63 percent.
The budget includes $158,150 in salaries and benefits for two additional certified teachers who will be hired on a one-year basis.
“They will help us through what I am considering a transition year out of the pandemic with COVID restrictions,” Delsandro said. “I want our school to be able to operate with all of our specials programs [art, music, etc.] in place, and I want the kids to all have certified teachers.”
The MDES budget for next year also includes $49,216 to increase the school’s technology integrator position from a 40 percent job to full time and $5,000 to help prepare for what school officials hope will be the start of a pre-kindergarten program the following year.
Delsandro said the latter would include professional development in collaboration with the Mount Desert Nursery School, which is to host the pre-K program. The $5,000 also will support some parent forums and school readiness activities for pre-K students.
“It’s for gaining a presence with the pre-K population in the town of Mount Desert, connecting with the families, and working to clarify what kindergarten-ready skills we’re looking at,” Delsandro told the school committee.
Exactly 70 percent of next year’s MDES budget will go for salaries and benefits.