PARIS — Oxford Hills residents of School Administrative District 17 will get a chance to vote on a $43.9 million budget at a referendum scheduled for June 8.
The Oxford Hills School Board budget represents a 4.32% increase from the current fiscal year. The proposed local assessment is 0.29%. The general purpose aid funds provided by Maine Department of Education is decreasing by $299,340.
Two of the eight communities in the district, Harrison and Oxford, will see slight decreases in their overall expense of -2.2% and 0.82% respectively. The other six will increase from 0.25% (Paris) to 2.27% (West Paris). Hebron’s share will go up 2.19%, Norway 1.73, Otisfield 1.39% and Waterford 0.78%.
Superintendent Rick Colpitts explained at the board meeting Monday night that changes to individual communities are due to fluctuating student enrollments and property valuations.
Directors also approved a call for district budget referendum, referendum warrants and authorized that the budget information be distributed.
There will be two public forums where the budget will be presented. The first will be at 5:30 p.m. on June 1 at Oxford Elementary School; the second will be at 5:30 p.m. on June 3 at Paris Elementary School. The referendum vote will be June 8.
Polls in Paris and Waterford will be open to voters from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. In the other towns (Harrison, Hebron, Otisfield, Oxford, Norway and West Paris), voting places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The increased expenses are due to two factors. One is that some positions and programs were cut during the financial downturn and are being restored eleven years later.
The second factor is in response to the needs laid out in a 2018-19 study of Oxford Hills schools by District Management Group, which recommended new positions be added, including a school psychologist, an elementary art teacher and an assistant special education director. A network specialist position is also being added to accommodate the increase over the last year in virtual education, platforms and technology.
SAD 17 will also receive $7.1 million from the third round of funds from the CARES Act to help sustain federal programs added during the pandemic, such as aid and relief to the district and for adding technology, staffing and personal protective equipment to all school properties.
In other business, directors approved a proposal to lease three new school buses at a cost of $277,604 with financing through Androscoggin Bank. The district was able to purchase six buses using COVID-19 relief funds.