TREMONT — If anything is certain about the preliminary budget for the Tremont Consolidated School, it’s that the $2.58 million figure presented to selectmen Feb. 1 will change before it goes to voters. How much of a change, however, remains to be seen.
Uncertainty always has been a factor in school budgets in Tremont and other towns in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, if not statewide. The amount of state subsidies and increases in health insurance costs routinely aren’t known until well after warrants are printed for the annual town meeting vote on the budget.
“We’re still working on the budget. It’s not close to being finalized,” Superintendent Howard Colter told selectmen.
As usual, the state subsidy and health insurance costs remain unknown in the proposed budget for the 2016-2017 school year. For budgeting purposes, school officials, as in the past, have estimated these costs. Two major budget items – library services and the cost of heating oil – still need to be addressed.
Earlier in the school year, part-time library services at the school were provided by the Bass Harbor Memorial Library. The library decided to pull out from that agreement in October. Since then, an ed-tech has been working in the library part-time.
The current budget proposal included $5,500 for library services, the amount that was to be paid to the Bass Harbor library for providing services at 20 percent of what is considered full-time.
Recently appointed Principal Jandrea True said school officials currently are looking at increased hours for staffing in the library. She told selectmen that, as a result, they might see “a bump” in this line before the budget goes to voters.
Heating oil has been budgeted at $42,000 at a cost of $2.65 per gallon, an unrealistic figure considering the low current market price. Tremont’s school committee is to amend the per-gallon cost to 98 cents, a rate offered in a recent round of bids from suppliers. As a result, the budget will reflect a savings of nearly $26,500.
The proposed budget includes salary increases, Colter said. Teachers and administrators are to receive on average a 2.75 percent increase. Hourly support staff would be paid an extra 90 cents per hour.
Health insurance costs are split between the school and employees. In an effort to cut the cost to the school, employees began this year picking up an extra two percent of the cost now paid by the school. That arrangement would continue, Colter said.