High school draft budget up 7%

BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School Principal Matt Haney has cut $213,276 from his proposed budget for next year. 

But the $12.86 million spending plan is still $839,416 higher than the budget for the current year, an increase of 7.03 percent. Salaries and benefits account for about 73 percent of the increase. 

New items in the budget include an additional instrumental music teacher with salary and benefits totaling $83,060 and $60,000 for a new telephone system for the school. 

Items that Haney has cut from the budget since he prepared the first draft were three additional bus drivers, a new bus and a half-time nurse. 

If the latest version of the budget is approved by the school board and then by voters from the four MDI towns at a meeting on April 6, it would increase the total assessment from taxpayers in the four towns by nearly $1.07 million, or 11.96 percent. It is likely that some towns would see a higher percentage increase than others. 

Haney told the high school board on Monday that, if necessary, he might be able to further reduce the budget by as much as $343,000. But that would involve making cuts he really doesn’t want to make. 

For example, he said $70,000 to $90,000 might be saved by not filling vacancies created by resignation or retirement. 

“At this time, the only known opening that could be considered would be in science,” Haney said. “The seven science teachers currently teach 611 students in 41 courses. Choosing not to fill the opening in science would mean a reduction or complete elimination of courses such as computer science, environmental science, outdoor science or forensics.” 

He said eliminating the proposed new music teacher position would save $83,060. 

“[But] choosing to maintain the status quo in music will be actively choosing to allow it to wane.” 

Haney said a custodial position probably could be cut, saving about $50,000 in salary and benefits, and replacing the phone system could be delayed for a year. 

But doing so “brings the very real risk of a system failure,” he said. 

Another $30,000 could be saved by not installing a fence around the outdoor basketball courts.
The fence will keep loose balls from rolling into the parking lot, which is a potentially dangerous situation,” Haney said. 

A significant source of funding for the high school is tuition paid by non-MDI towns such as Trenton, Lamoine, Hancock and the outer island towns for their residents who choose to attend MDI High. This year, those tuition payments total $1.5 million, and the same amount is expected next year. Twenty-six percent of the school’s 507 students (as of Oct. 1, 2021) were tuition students. 

The high school board will continue reviewing the budget for next year at its Feb. 14 meeting. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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