Ginette Albert can’t count her chickens just yet. On Wednesday night, the Madawaska interim superintendent and the school committee were hopeful as they presented the proposed budget for the 2013-2014 school year – but the town budget committee wasn’t totally sold. They had too many questions to be able to give it the stamp of approval.
She says, “One of the main questions they asked me was, if you had a freeze last year what did you have that was not expended? Another question was if this budget gets turned down..are you looking at eliminating teachers? No I’m not.”
The biggest questions were about the funds the town and school receive from the Sudden and Severe Impact program – these are relief funds given to municipalities that see severe tax valuation losses – so in Madawaska’s case, the devaluation of the Twin Rivers paper mill.
Albert says, “Where is this money coming from the state and where is it right now and how much are we getting? So, to be able to answer that, I mean it’s built in to the formula.”
After the meeting, Albert contacted the deputy commissioner for the Maine Department of Education about these funds – who told her right now they’re in the governor’s hands. Albert says to get the questions answered about the sudden and severe impact funds, she, some of the members of the school committee, along with some of the members of the town budget committee will have a conference call with the deputy commissioner for the Maine Department of Education. That will be September 23rd, and that way everyone will hear the same information. Albert says the budget committee also requested a breakdown of the town’s early childhood education program – so she’ll have that done before they meet again.
“Early childhood is a benefit to the school cost wise – a money making type program,” she says, “so I will have that spreadsheet ready for them.”
The next meeting between the school committee and the town budget committee will be September 25th.