SCARBOROUGH – Since March 13, when Superintendent George Entwistle unveiled a $41.38 million operating budget for the coming fiscal year to start July 1, the school board has trimmed $1.74 million from what was initially a $3.96 million budget increase.
Most of those cuts come from moving technology and bus purchases out of the operating budget and instead funding them through capital improvement bonds. The shift eliminates from the budget $306,750 for three new buses and $150,000 in computer upgrades. Payments on the new borrowing is expected to contribute to a $230,954 total allocation for debt service in 2014, which is now slated at $4.15 million.
However, the latest figures from the town on the refinancing of the debt on the new Wentworth School has allowed the school department to book a $188,586 savings on those payments.
According to school Finance Director Kate Bolton, the technology budget also include a “worst-case” scenario, should the state choose to switch to iPads as part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Should that happen, Scarborough would opt out of the program and instead spend $447,048, less the trade-in value on existing Macbooks, to buy 887 Hewlett-Packard laptops for students.
Other savings come from new projections in staff benefits. Health insurance in now expected to rise 8 percent, instead of 13 percent, saving $208,272. The district dental plan in now expected to decrease 0.74 percent, compared to the original expectation of a 4 percent hike, saving $7,435. Also, new workers compensation figures show a $109,480 decrease from earlier estimates.
The district also is not booking $90,000 in “turnover savings” given that new hires are expected to cost at least $10,000 less, each, than nine staffers who have already announced retirement plans. Based on “the latest staff info” the school department also I snow counting on paying out $19,445 in additional stipends next year.
The school board also has cut a planned $25,000 increase in maintenance spending, leaving that line item at this year’s $50,000 level. It also cut $76,900 from planned increases for the athletic programs in equipment and supplies, trimming to $12,284 the increase to the current $106,804 allocation. Meanwhile, a planned $50,000 increase in the food service program has been scaled back to $25,000.
The school board also cut $88,746 from the technology department it shares with the town, based on updated municipal projections and approved a $244,500 cut in new programming proposals.
The cuts to new programs, made at an April 22 special school board meeting, have not been detailed at this time. On Tuesday, the day after the cut, administrators were working on paring the new initiatives down to “the most essential items.”
Also up in the air is $228,894 in systemwide cuts on books by the school board subject to a “line item review” by Entwistle and Bolton.