BAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor School Committee unanimously approved $7,152,378 for the 2022 Conners Emerson budget, which will head to voters in June, at its meeting on Monday. After a thorough review of the third draft, committee members decided to remove $50,000 for outdoor instruction from the budget before voting in favor of a proposed 7 percent increase.
With no guarantee of future pandemic conditions, the Conners Emerson staff has been discussing their budget for the fiscal year of 2022 since September. Principal Barb Neilly’s budget drafts were addressed at monthly committee meetings throughout the fall. At Monday’s virtual meeting, the budget draft was introduced by Neilly who said there were no changes to anything that had already been recommended, with the exception of a health insurance increase. “We did take into account an 8 percent projected rate for the Blue Cross Blue Shield across the board,” she said.
Neilly announced that asymptomatic coronavirus testing for all staff was included within the regular instruction portion of the budget. “We’ve been told it will be approximately $200 per staff member…so Nancy [Thurlow, central office business manager] figured that $15,400 would be our share for all staff, not just teachers,” she said. Due to a need for two additional teachers, the budget’s regular instruction portion also included an increase. She reminded staff that the school was looking for a custodian and two teachers.
The budget draft presented Monday included an additional $50,000 for the development of outside learning areas. Teacher Marie Yarborough and School Committee Chairman Kristi Losquadro said the school COVID-19 relief funds should cover the cost of outdoor learning. The two separately questioned cutting the $50,000 from the budget. “I would lean toward taking it out; I don’t know how the rest of you feel because there is still COVID relief fund coming, there is still a chance to do those things with the funds that are coming,” said Losquadro.
“I’m comfortable with cutting the $50,000 there and using what we have but … that is one area where students wouldn’t suffer if we had to cut it,” said Neilly. She said that she wants to do everything to make sure the budget is as lean as possible but also meets the needs of the school. Superintendent Marc Gousse agreed that Neilly’s projected budget should navigate the school through next year.