MOUNT DESERT — Next year’s proposed budget for Mount Desert Elementary School is $4.39 million, an increase of $135,133, or 3.18 percent, over the budget for the current year.
The town’s allocation to the school would go up 5.76 percent, largely because of a proposed $85,995 reduction in the amount to be transferred into the operating budget from reserves.
Most of the increase in spending next year would be for new items or expanded staff time. And more than half of those new expenditures — $64,257 — would cover salary and benefits for what is envisioned as a one-year custodial position.
School Superintendent Marc Gousse explained why that is needed.
“We have two individuals who are out on workers’ comp right now, and that has really put us up against it,” he said. “Obviously, we want to support them with whatever care they need. But the work still needs to get done.
“The reason [the new position] is only for one year is because we fully anticipate folks returning at some point. We’re required to hold the positions open and, if they don’t return, we will go back to posting [the jobs] and hiring accordingly.”
Gousse and MDES Principal Gloria Delsandro said that, with the school board’s approval, they had contracted with a private cleaning service earlier this school year to help fill the staffing gap. But Delsandro said she had determined that, for the coming year, it would be less expensive to add a staff position than to continue using an outside contractor.
As for the $64,257 budgeted for the one-year custodial position, Gousse noted that it includes both salary and health insurance and that the exact salary amount would depend on the experience of the person who is hired.
“We never budget at the bottom [of the salary range],” he said. “You don’t know what your applicant pool is going to be, so you want to budget mid-range.”
In addition to the temporary custodial position, MDES is adding $35,646 to the budget to increase from 60 percent to full time the special education speech teacher’s position.
New spending also would include an estimated $5,000 to redesign the main entrance area to improve security and $2,000 for an energy audit. The school’s payment to the Northeast Harbor Library, which doubles as the MDES library, would increase from $44,000 to $49,000 under the proposed budget.