News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, January 30, 2020
Brooklin wraps its school budget around GSA tuition bump
Three-step process of approval

by Anne Berleant

The proposed 2020-21 Brooklin school budget includes the $300 tuition increase per student requested by George Stevens Academy, but the school warrant includes an article that would authorize the school board “to enter into agreements with other Towns or Schools for the 2020-2021 school year for the tuition of secondary students up to the legal limit established by the Maine Revised Statutes for the education of its secondary students.”

The warrant also includes an article, to be voted upon by written ballot, seeking to establish an interest-bearing secondary school insured value factor reserve account, and transfer $9,000, which represents the tuition increase total for the town’s 30 high school students. If the articles pass, a special town meeting would be called to use the reserve account.

“We recognize GSA has moved considerably from their earlier requests for increased payment, and their current request,” Chairman Mike Sealander said January 23. “We also felt the town should be given an opportunity to decide if that extra IVF money should be spent.”

GSA originally requested a $563 increase per student but lowered the amount to $300, raised by increasing its Insured Value Factor from 6 percent to around 9 percent, after weeks of discussion with its sending towns school and select boards. The independent school still seeks an overall $2,700 per student increase above the state-set tuition rate, to be phased in over a three-year period.

Sealander continued, “We also feel there is current uncertainty with what will happen. Deferring a decision may give us the opportunity to make a decision with more information.”

He added, “Lastly, we did not tie our decision making to the decisions made by other towns.”

The total 2020-21 budget came in at about $2,042,625, a $98,547 or 5 percent increase, with $1,823,273 to be raised through local taxes.