MSAD 52 voters to decide on $28.3 million budget Thursday

Kathryn Skelton, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
·2 min read

Apr. 30—TURNER — Voters in Turner, Leeds and Greene will vote next week on a $28.3 million school budget for 2021-22.

The Maine School Administrative District 52 budget vote will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Leavitt Area High School auditorium. Members of the public will need to wear face coverings, Superintendent Kimberly Brandt said.

Though the board of directors held the increase over this fiscal year to 0.85%, the tax impact has gone from nearly nothing this fiscal year to an average 3.64% increase in the proposed budget.

The impact by town: 3.25% for Greene, 3.39% for Turner and 5.06% for Leeds.

Going into the budget season, Brandt had warned that the district was looking at a nearly $500,000 drop in state subsidy due to the loss of 90 students, funds that needed to be made up.

The proposed budget includes a new half-time prekindergarten teacher and half-time prekindergarten educational technician II at Turner Primary School, three buses on a five-year lease-purchase arrangement, partly offset by subsidy, and using $555,000 from a fund balance and $516,712 in unspent funds from this fiscal year to reduce the tax burden. The 2020-21 fiscal year ends June 30.

In February, the initial proposed budget started roughly $200,000 higher.

"We trimmed smaller items and because of the pandemic and not using our diesel, the company is allowing us to use the amounts for which we have already paid through next year, so that represents a substantial savings," Brandt said Friday.

She said she was happy the district was able to use pandemic-related savings from the current year, along with the funds carried forward, to offset the tax impact.

"In addition, the administrative team approached the federal emergency relief funding with the goal of benefiting students and our communities now and for years into the future by identifying which of our greatest needs met the requirement of being directly impacted by COVID-19 while also intersecting with items we would likely be including in the general budget over the next few years, such as improving technology infrastructure, student and staff devices, grounds work and repairs and air ventilation improvements," Brandt said. "The proposed FY '22 budget will meet our students' most critical needs next year."

The budget validation referendum will be May 20 at local polling places.