RSU 19 considers month-long shut down to handle budget crisis | News

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RSU 19 considers month-long shut down to handle budget crisis

NEWPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Tight budget times in RSU 19 now have leaders of the district considering some major action: a month long shut down of the district's eight schools in order to curb mounting payments.

The RSU went into this school year carrying a massive shortfall of more than $3 million. As a result, the district has already faced $1.6 million in cuts because of it. Now the superintendent says with bills adding up there is a chance schools will have to shut down for a time.

The potential shut down would go from mid March of this year and end sometime in mid April. As a result, 18 days of classes for students in all grades would be postponed. To make up those days, April vacation would have to be cancelled in RSU 19 and the school year would be extended with classes ending on July 3, 2013.

RSU 19 Superintendent Greg Potter says the shutdown would be necessary so the RSU could pay its bills. He says costs have been adding up for things like employee health insurance. Under law, the district also needs to continue meeting payroll for the year.

"The reality is we need to pay our bills and we're gonna do what we need to do in order to pay our bills so that we don't put the public at risk of many other things happening that will end up costing money," Potter said. 

On two occasions the district has tried to take out a loan to alleviate the shortfall but the move has been rejected by voters in RSU 19 at the polls. Earlier this month RSU 19 voters denied taking out a $2.9 million dollar loan.

Potter says he and other will once again try to get that amount passed. The school board will be meeting Wednesday evening at 7:30 at Nokomis Regional High School to consider the idea.

The superintendent also said if the public rejects the idea of taking out a loan again, the shut down will not only happen but the district will have to absorb even more cuts going into next school year.