Holding its second meeting to provide pre-town meeting information, the Surry Community Improvement Association on Monday evening, April 8, provided a forum to introduce school board candidates and review the proposed $2,256,395 budget. The budget for 2013-14 is $48,624, or 2.11 percent, less than that currently providing education for 155 local K-12 students. It marks the fourth year in a row, while Surry has been with Union 93, that the expenditure budget has been less than the year before, according to Supterintendent Mark Hurvitt. “That’s a 14.84 percent decrease in four years,” he said; the monetary saving has amounted to $363,978.
Hurvitt went on to explain how estimating state subsidy is “a bit of a guessing game” when it comes to drawing up a budget, but it worked in Surry’s favor because their 2013 guess of $74,150 was nearly doubled when the state figure of $135,981 came in. Surry’s good fortune continued when the state pitched in $53,000 for the overboard discharge system, and for the second year in a row, Surry avoided being penalized for failed consolidation efforts. The audited carry forward of $832,000 from June 30, 2012, with sources detailed by the superintendent, was another bonus.
Although the 2014 school budget includes $350,000 from the carry forward to lower the amount taxpayers will have to assume, several questions from the audience concerned the amount of “surplus” and plans for it. Other questions related to K-8 per-student costs (Surry’s is $14,833; Hurvitt “guessed” the state average is about $9,600), the value of a school guidance program, tuition to area high schools aside from GSA and Ellsworth and the number of other schools which exceed the state funding cap.
Prior to the budget review, candidates for school board vacancies Don Driscoll, seeking election to a second three-year term, Pat Hollenberg, seeking re-election to another one-year term, newcomer Dan Sullivan, running for a three-year term and write-in candidate Monica Hardy-Torrey spoke of their desire to serve and support the school, its students and the Town of Surry. Valerie Moon, a first-time candidate for a three-year position on the school board, was unable to attend due to a family medical emergency.