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4/12/2014 6:00:00 PM
Wiscasset Adult Education Budget Slashed

Wiscasset Adult & Community Education Director Anne Fensie makes her budget plea before the Wiscasset School Board April 3. (Kathy Onorato photo)
Wiscasset Adult & Community Education Director Anne Fensie makes her budget plea before the Wiscasset School Board April 3. (Kathy Onorato photo)
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By Kathy Onorato

Although most of the Wiscasset School Board agreed the Wiscasset Adult & Community program is a great program, they also agreed Wiscasset cannot afford the nearly $80,000 cost of operating the program.

After a lengthy discussion at a budget workshop meeting, April 3, the board agreed the only part of adult education it could justify continuing was a high school completion program.

"It's absolutely critical we provide a program for 16 to 20-year-olds," said school board member Steve Smith.

The board authorized Wiscasset interim superintendent Wayne Dorr to follow-up with officials in RSU 1, who told Dorr earlier it could oversee a high school completion program for about $10,000.

During her presentation, Wiscasset Adult & Community Education Director Anne Fensie said a decision not to fund the entire program would have a major financial impact in Wiscasset.

"It's absolutely necessary for this town," Fensie said.

Fensie said the program provides additional job skills, brings people to Wiscasset, and encourages residents who may not have children in school to visit the school and value the school system.

"It's a fantastic program, but too expensive," said Wiscasset School Board member Steve Smith. "We are struggling to get money in the classrooms. Our first duty is to students."

Fensie said only about 20 percent of the adult education participants are from Wiscasset.

School committee member Sharon Nichols questioned the fairness of Wiscasset taxpayers being asked to fund the entire cost of $78,897 for operating the program.

"We are a small school, why aren't the other towns offering to help with pay for operations?" Nichols asked Fensie.

Potential custodial savings

Dorr told the board the custodial salary line in the budget represents $500,000 and suggested potential savings if consideration was given to contracting out the service. The board agreed to hear a presentation by a cleaning service to see what it can offer and at what costs.

Many school districts are moving toward this contractual service Dorr said.

"These decisions are the toughest in communities," Dorr said.

Maintenance supervisor John Merry said informal discussions have been done in the past around this issue. Merry said cleaning services generally would not do ground maintenance, prep athletic fields, or change light bulbs.

School Board member Eugene Stover said it is likely additional staff would be needed to perform the tasks not performed by a cleaning service; therefore he indicated it may not be worth going in that directions.

A public hearing on the school budget is planned for April 14 at 6 p.m. in the Wiscasset High School cafeteria.

May 14 has been set for district budget meeting. During this meeting residents will have the opportunity to make adjustments to the budget. Residents will then vote on June 10 whether or not to approve the budget passed at the May 14 meeting.

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