May 20, 2024

Greetings RSU No. 67 staff, students, families, and community members.

With temperatures predicted to be over 80 degrees later this week, the anticipation for summer is reaching a fever pitch! After a long, cold, and wet winter and spring, these warmer temperatures are just wonderful and serve as a reminder that family activities, cookouts, and summer vacation are just around the corner.  As we approach the end of the 2023-2024 school year, our schools are abuzz with learning, field trips, and end-of-the-year activities for our students and families. It is truly an exciting time of year. However, while celebrations and year-end activities are exciting, this edition of the Superintendent’s Corner is dedicated to highlighting our progress on the district's strategic plan and providing an overview of the Fiscal Year ‘25 (FY ‘25) school budget that runs July 1st, 2024, through June 30th, 2025. 

This year, the district implemented and carried out the first-year goals of the approved RSU No. 67 Five-Year Strategic Plan.  We are pleased with our progress toward improving district safety and security, addressing the academic and mental health needs of students, and the substantial upgrades to the heating and ventilation systems in our schools.  Although we made outstanding progress on the goals of the strategic plan, we acknowledge there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.  The passage of the FY ’25 RSU No. 67 budget is critical to achieving those goals.  

Throughout the budget process, the district has focused on meeting the needs of our students, while being responsive to the needs of our taxpayers. The proposed FY ‘25 budget represents a total expenditure budget of $14,304,883, which is an increase of 3.75% over 2023-2024. The primary reasons for this increase are the mandated funding of a new Family Medical Leave Act law (FMLA), contractual obligations, an increased need in special education, and funding for critically important positions (School Resource Officer, 2 School Social Workers, and 3 Educational Technicians) that were previously funded by Federal COVID-19 monies (ESSER). While the state funds approximately 45% of our total budget, state funding unfortunately decreased this year by $15,558.44 as compared to last year.  At the same time, and because state valuations in Chester, Lincoln, and Mattawamkeag increased by an average of 9.8% this year, the state increased the mandated local share by $174,150.01.  To address this decrease in the state share and increase to the local share, R.S.U. No. 67 will utilize $1,200,000 from our undesignated fund balance to decrease town assessments (your taxpayer dollars). By applying this undesignated fund balance to the budget, town assessments will see an average increase of 2.68%.  

Later this week on Thursday, May 23rd, RSU No. 67 will hold its annual town-meeting style budget meeting in the Mattanawcook Academy Cafetorium, starting at 6:00 PM.  At this meeting, the citizens of Chester, Lincoln, and Mattawamkeag will have the opportunity to vote on each of the articles of the FY ‘25 school budget.  With the collective backing of our communities, I am confident that our students will continue to excel and achieve more than anyone ever dreamed possible. I am thankful for your continued support of R.S.U. No. 67, our students, our program offerings, and our staff.   Finally, if you are a resident of Chester, Lincoln, or Mattawamkeag, I encourage you to come to the Cafetorium on Thursday evening to participate in the FY ‘25 budget process. 

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Paul Austin, RSU No. 67 Superintendent of Schools