BAR HARBOR — Under the state budget proposed by Gov. Janet Mills, schools in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS) would receive a total of $723,720 more in state subsidies for special education next year than they had included in their revenue projections.
The governor’s budget calls for the state to pay 45 percent of special education costs. For the current budget year, the state is paying 40 percent. And even that is more than the schools had expected.
MDI schools had budgeted for state subsidies totaling nearly $1.73 million. But the actual subsidy total for 2018-2019 is about $2.11 million. Under the governor’s budget, that would increase to $2.45 million next year.
Among the local schools, the largest beneficiary would be MDI High School. It would receive $595,299 for special education under the governor’s budget plan, an increase of $170,299 over the amount that had been anticipated.
But because it is not known whether the Legislature will approve any or all of the governor’s proposed school funding increase, MDIRSS Superintendent Marc Gousse and Business Manager Nancy Thurlow are recommending that the individual schools be somewhat conservative in adjusting their revenue projections.
For example, instead of counting on the entire $170,200 increase for MDI High School that is reflected in the governor’s budget, they are recommending that the school revise its anticipated revenues by only $100,000, to $525,000. (See the accompanying chart for the figures for each of the MDIRSS schools.)
All nine of the schools in the district are classified as “minimum receivers” of state funds, which means they only receive subsidies for special education. Minimum receivers are, in general, cities and towns with relatively high property values. The assumption behind the state’s school funding formula is that those municipalities are better able to support their schools through property taxes and don’t need as much state assistance.