A draft budget for Mount Desert Island High School for the next fiscal year was presented to the school board. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Preliminary high school budget includes increase

BAR HARBOR — Cautioning that the $10.9 million draft budget for Mount Desert Island High School for next year is still in a rather “drafty” state, Principal Matt Haney presented it to the school board Monday night.

It calls for a spending increase of 3.67 percent over the current year’s budget.

Partially offsetting that increase is a projected $110,000 hike in the expected revenue from tuition, which off-island towns pay for their students to attend MDI High School. Tuition is $11,584 per student. MDI residents support the high school through property taxes.

School officials had anticipated the high school would have 125 tuition students this year, mostly from Trenton, Lamoine, Hancock and the outer islands, for a total of $1.43 million in tuition revenue. But there are actually 131 tuition students this year.

That number is expected to rise to 140 next year – 26 percent of total enrollment – with tuition revenue totaling $1.62 million.

The spending side of the draft budget calls for an increase of $386,556. About $166,000 of that would be for salaries and benefits for “regular instruction” teachers and $42,000 for “special services” salaries and benefits. Those amounts are only estimates at this point because the teachers union and a committee of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System Board are still in the process of negotiating a new three-year contract.

The current contract, approved in 2015, included a 2.13 percent annual raise over the base salary for starting teachers and similar-sized increases for other teachers.

Haney said the projected salary figures for next year have been put in the draft budget “as a placeholder to be sure we’ve budgeted for any salary increases based on the [contract] negotiations.”

It is anticipated that salaries will total just over $5 million or about 45 percent of the total budget.

That does not include health insurance benefits. Anthem Blue Cross typically doesn’t announce how much premiums will increase until March or April. Haney is budgeting for a 10 percent increase but hoping it will be less.

Also unknown at this time is the percentage of premiums that the schools will pay. All of the schools except Mount Desert Elementary currently pay 82 percent of insurance costs; employees pay the rest. In Mount Desert, the school now pays 90 percent of the premiums for teachers who choose “single” coverage and 80 percent of the cost of a two-adult or family plan.

Other additions to the budget that Haney has proposed are about $49,000 for salaries, equipment and other expenses associated with extracurricular and cocurricular activities.

The high school board is expected to vote on the new budget in January. Voters in the four MDI towns will have the final say on the budget at the board’s annual budget meeting in April.

School system budget

Superintendent Marc Gousse’s draft budget for the school system’s central office, which includes administration, finance, student and staff support services, and special education and technology services, totals about $1.84 million.

That represents an increase of 1.98 percent over the current year’s budget. However, it does not yet include salary increases.

The school system board is scheduled to vote on the budget at its annual meeting next Monday, Dec. 18.


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]

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