Cape Elizabeth school budget proposal up nearly 3%

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The School Board is expected to adopt a proposed $25 million budget at its April 11 meeting.

The fiscal 2018  budget, if approved, represents a 2.9 percent increase over current spending. The present operating budget is $24.3 million.  

The education portion of the tax rate under the new budget would be $13.02 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 5 percent over the current $12.40.

Dollar amounts are not included in the School Department’s category summary of the proposed budget. However, classroom instruction makes up the largest part of the budget, at 47 percent.  Special education is second, at 13 percent of the total budget. Building maintenance at the district’s three schools is 12 percent.

Student and staff support is 11 percent, followed by school administration at 5 percent and transportation and buses at 3 percent. Two percent of the budget is for debt service, where outstanding bills, especially on capital projects, is paid down.

Budget highlights in the 2017-18 spending plan include adding a Responsive Classroom for kindergarten and first-grade students. The Responsive Classroom is a nationally used program that integrates social and learning skills into a child’s school day.

At the middle school, computer supplies and software will be added, for more than $4,600.

At the high school, an ed tech will coordinate the Achievement Center for $3,500.

The April 11 meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Town Office building, 320 Ocean House Road. 

The board met April 4 to review the budget, first presented Feb. 28. Around that time, School Department administrators searched for a way to close a financial gap in the budget due to a loss of education funding from the state.

School Business Manager Catherine Messmer recommended to interim Superintendent Howard Colter that $800,000 from a $1.4 million fund balance be used to offset the state funding loss. 

Budget deliberations en route to voter approval will continue on April 25, when the proposed budget will be presented to the Town Council.

On May 8, the council will hold a public hearing on the municipal budget, and on May 15 councilors will vote on the school budget.

Residents will vote on the school budget June 13. 

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.