School pays off debt, loses $150K in tuition 

BAR HARBOR — Since 2000, Mount Desert Island High School has been paying $380,000 a year plus interest on the debt it incurred to build what is known as the art wing. 

The final payment was made in November. 

That is good news, of course, but it also means the school will be receiving a total of about $150,000 less per year from the off-island towns that pay to send students to MDI High. The school has been adding a 10 percent surcharge to those tuition payments to help retire the art wing debt. 

Of the school’s 536 students, 130 are currently tuition students who represent $1.65 million in revenue for the school. That will be reduced to about $1.5 million starting next year.  

Principal Matt Haney has factored in all that in drafting a 2021-22 budget of just over $12.1 million. That represents a 2.91 percent increase over the budget for the current year. But because of the drop in tuition revenue, the amount that the four MDI towns are assessed to support the school would increase by 6.16 percent. 

“I don’t at all anticipate the assessment staying anywhere near that high,” Haney told the high school board Dec. 14. “It always comes down. We can always adjust, so I feel pretty good about where this budget is going to wind up.” 

Haney’s draft budget includes a request for $173,792 in new spending. The majority of that, $103,060 would be used to hire two full-time substitute teachers. That will allow the school to spend about $50,000 less on part-time substitutes. 

“We can lower that [budget] line because, obviously, we wouldn’t need part-time subs every day if we had the full-time subs,” Haney said. 

He also is proposing that a part-time secretarial position in the main office be increased to full time at a cost of $38,732, including benefits. 

And he is requesting $32,000 to refinish the gym floor. 

“It’s been 13 years since it was done,” he said. “This had been approved last year before we revised the budget in March because of COVID. The vendor we had planned to have do it said he would keep the same price.” 

For the current year, salaries and benefits total just over $7.6 million, or about 65 percent of the overall high school budget. Approximately the same percentage is expected to hold for next year. 

The school board is to review Haney’s draft budget at its next meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 19. 

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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