News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 16, 2020
Penobscot school budget shows $364,000 surplus
Could ‘mitigate tax burden,’ superintendent says

Parsing the Penobscot school budget

From left, Penobscot school board members Charles Brenton, Fred Briehl and Anne Hayes-Grillo review the 2020-21 budget on January 13 at Penobscot Community School.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Eli Forman

The Penobscot School Board met January 13 at the Penobscot Community School, where members reviewed the third draft of the proposed 2020-21 budget. An increase of 3.87 percent or $72,000 from the current budget is expected.

Those attending believed the most exciting news of the evening came in the auditor’s report for the fiscal year ending June 30, which shows an unprecedented balance-forward, or surplus, of $364,438 due to less than anticipated special education costs.

That balance-forward could be used “to help mitigate the tax burden in Penobscot,” Superintendent Mark Hurvitt said.

More students at the high school level are partially responsible for the proposed budget increase, representing a $30,894 uptick from the 2019-20 school year. The budget does not include a proposed GSA tuition increase at this time.

Additionally, the school board discussed purchasing a new school bus, the cost of which would be funded by a reserve account of $55,000 and a proposed transportation line item of $33,500.

“We pay for the bus; we own it, and we can do what we want with it,” Chairman Jerry Markley said.

The board also reviewed an estimate for an 80 KW generator that would power the entire school in the event of a power outage. The generator costs $47,820.

“Given our budget this year that might be a little rich,” Chairman Markley said.

Hurvitt is seeking a proposal for a smaller 48kw generator that would keep the building from freezing.

In other business, the board voted to update the sexual harassment policy to include gender identity and expression. The policy was last updated in 1999. All school policies can be viewed online at

The board will hold another budget meeting on January 21 at the Penobscot Community School at 5 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.