TRENTON — The $3.62 million draft budget for Trenton Elementary School for next year is $455,043 higher than the current year’s budget, an increase of 12.62 percent. And the projected increase in the amount of local tax money that will be needed is up $606,850, or 20.15 percent.
A big reason is that the budget calls for carrying over only $201,587 in revenue from this year to next, a reduction of 45.28 percent from the amount of carryover budgeted for the current year. A smaller carryover means a larger town appropriation.
A significant part of the school’s budget increase, $179,450, is to cover the costs for two children whose special education needs have required their placement in other schools. Because the children are Trenton residents, the town is responsible for the cost of their education.
Principal Mike Zboray said one student is enrolled in another school in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System. The other child is at a school in another district in Maine.
One student’s family moved to Trenton after the budget for the current year was approved last summer, and the “alternative placement” needs of the other student were not known before school started last fall. So, the school is bearing the additional costs for both students this year.
“We are lucky that we have a special ed reserve to cover part of those costs, so we’re digging into that,” Zboray said.
He is using $110,000 of the $113,000 in the reserve account.
He said he also is limiting school purchasing this year to essential items in order to help cover the special education costs.
Zboray said he is looking at other ways to reduce school spending and has asked to meet with the Trenton Board of Selectmen soon to discuss the budget.
Pre-kindergarten education is another item contributing to the proposed increase in next year’s Trenton Elementary budget.
The school’s $58,000 cost of getting the pre-K program up and running this year was not part of the school budget that was presented to voters at town meeting last June. But in a separate vote, they agreed to the additional spending.
Now, the $50,000 needed to keep the program going next year is being included in the regular budget.
“That covers the head teacher and part of the ed tech and part of the program aide,” Zboray said.
Head Start covers the rest of the costs for pre-K education.
High school tuition
The town of Trenton pays tuition for each of its students who attend Mount Desert Island High School or Ellsworth High School. Most choose to go to MDI.
For next year, Zboray is anticipating an increase in the number of high school students from Trenton and tuition costs totaling $111,344 more than was budgeted for the current year and $88,200 more than the school anticipates actually spending this year.
Trenton currently pays $11,093 for each of its students at MDI High, plus a 10 percent surcharge to help the high school pay off the debt from a previous expansion. Ellsworth charges tuition of $10,079.
This year, 53 Trenton students attend MDI High and nine go to Ellsworth. For the coming school year, Zboray is budgeting for up to 66 tuition students and tuition payments totaling $838,200. That figure anticipates a 4 percent increase in the high schools’ tuition charges.
The collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated last year by the teachers union and the school system board calls for teachers to receive a 6.81 percent salary increase next year. That increase totals about $64,000 for “regular education” teachers at Trenton Elementary.
Under the new teachers’ contract, the cost of health insurance premiums will be lower. But the schools are setting up an account to reimburse teachers for higher deductible costs.