BAR HARBOR — A $2.24 million budget for the Mount Desert Island Regional School System central office for next fiscal year was approved on Jan. 11 by the school system board.
That number represents a 5.9 percent increase over the current year’s budget.
The budget includes three new items: $90,000, including salary and benefits, for an operations and transportation manager for the school system, a $10,000 stipend for someone to help manage food services and $7,010 to increase the summertime hours of the data assessment coordinator.
When Superintendent Marc Gousse presented his draft budget to the board last month, it included $80,000 to continue the COVID-19 asymptomatic testing program for school employees throughout the system. But that cost is now to be distributed among the nine schools in the system based on their staff size. So, MDI High School will pay the most; Frenchboro Elementary will pay the least.
The school system, as well as the individual schools, typically budget for a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs as a placeholder because Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield does not usually announce the size of the increase until April.
But in recent years that increase has been well below 10 percent. So, at Gousse’s recommendation, the school board voted to budget for an 8 percent increase in health insurance costs for next year.
Gousse told the school board that the largest new item in the budget, funding for a system-wide operations and transportation manager, is needed “so our principals can focus on teaching and learning.”
The school board’s approval is not the final word on the school system’s budget for next year. Registered voters in the eight towns that make up the school system will have the opportunity to vote on the spending plan at the annual public budget meeting on Feb. 1, which will start at 6 p.m.
Information on the location of the meeting and how it will be conducted, given COVID-19 restrictions, will be forthcoming.