Budget Letter from the Superintendent of Schools

posted May 3, 2019, 4:34 AM by Dave Fournier

May 2, 2019

Dear RSU # 71 Communities of Belfast, Belmont, Swanville, Morrill and Searsmont:

On Patriot’s Day, Monday, April 15, the RSU # 71 School Board approved a budget that will go to the voters in May and June.

  • The public budget validation meeting will be on Monday, May 20 at 6:00 pm at the Troy Howard Middle School.

  • The budget referendum will be on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

  • School Board Members and I will be visiting each town in our district to talk about the budget and to answer questions:

  • Morrill - Monday, May 6th at 6:30 pm

  • Belmont - Tuesday, May 7th at 6:15

  • Belfast - Tuesday, May 7th at 7:00

  • Swanville - Wednesday, May 15th at 7:00

  • Searsmont - Tuesday, May 21st at 6:00 pm

The proposed 2019 - 2020 budget is up 2.35% over the previous year. There are several factors that have enabled us to create a proposed budget with a modest increase while adding several positions that have long been needed and advocated for by parents, students, staff and the school board. These factors include: 1) better than expected news in the amount of state funding coming to our district; 2) a long-standing habit of exceptional frugality, fiscal restraint, grant-writing and thrift on the part of district staff and our school board, which have resulted in a 2.2 million dollar carry forward; and 3) careful investigation and analysis of our district’s class size policy in relation to each of our actual class sizes in RSU 71 and a consequent plan to consolidate sections and classes at the following schools: Captain Albert Stevens, East Belfast, Kermit Nickerson, Troy Howard Middle School and Belfast Area High School’s alternative education program, known as BCOPE. Due to resignations and retirements, there will be no reduction in force and all staff members will keep their jobs.

We will be using a large portion of our carry-forward to fund the following requests from each of our seven schools while putting the remainder into our Capital Improvement Fund in anticipation that significant funding for capital expenses will be needed in the future to address issues in the “tri-town” schools of Searsmont, Belmont and Morrill.  

These are the changes requested by our seven schools and recommended by the RSU # 71 School Board:

  • The addition of one elementary guidance counselor - We envision there being one school counsellor shared between the Ames and Weymouth Schools, one counsellor shared between the East Belfast and Kermit Nickerson Schools, and one full-time counsellor at the Captain Albert Stevens School.

  • The addition of one elementary school nurse - We envision there being one school nurse between the Ames and Weymouth Schools, one school nurse between the East Belfast and Kermit Nickerson Schools, and one full-time nurse at the Captain Albert Stevens School

  • The addition of an assistant principal at the Captain Albert Stevens School - In a school of 300 students plus several day treatment programs, an assistant to the principal has long been needed.

  • Increasing the half-time registrar at the high school to full-time - In a school of 500 students, more support is required in our school counselling office.

  • Increasing a half-time English teacher at the high school to full-time - In a school of 500 students required to take English all four years, more classes and English electives are needed.    

  • The realization of a World Language position at the middle level, which has long been an aspiration of the district.

  • The addition of an assistant mechanic in the bus garage - In a district our size we need to provide additional support for the maintenance and repair of our fleet of school buses.

  • The addition of a third maintenance worker - Our community has voiced a desire to improve the upkeep and beautification of our buildings and grounds.

Over the coming weeks, I look forward to talking with city counsellors and selectmen in our five jurisdictions, to attending staff meetings in each of the schools and to visiting our parent groups.

Our seven schools, school board and administrative team have worked very hard to create a budget that is respectful of the financial constraints of our communities, while also providing much-needed assistance in additional staffing that will improve the educational experiences and achievement of the fabulous students of Swanville, Searsmont, Morrill, Belmont and Belfast.

Please feel free to be in touch with me or with a member of our administrative team or school board.


Mary Alice

Mary Alice McLean, Superintendent of Schools