Cape schools freeze spending to prepare for more state cuts

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CAPE ELIZABETH — As a way to prepare for potential school subsidy cuts by the state, the School Department will once again freeze spending.

Superintendent of Schools Alan Hawkins said he expects a cut close to the $421,000 curtailment Cape Elizabeth experienced last year, and possibly more.

“We predict that no figures will be released until after the the Nov. 3 election, but expect two major agencies – Health and Human Services and education – will be hit again,” he said. “As it is now, we realize there is not enough money to play around with.”

Spending in Cape Elizabeth will be limited to only necessary expenditures, Hawkins said, with a freeze on most non-payroll items. He cannot restrict salaries and benefits, and will only approve items that are absolutely necessary for education.

“We face two problems, the budget for 2009-2010, and the budget for 2010-2011,” he said. “It could be unpleasant based on the stimulus funds used.”

Hawkins said energy conservation efforts have saved money and by monitoring fuel costs and regulating heating oil, school and town buildings have seen an improvement in energy savings.

In order to prepare for the budget season, he said he has started to work on the 2010 finances, plans to meet with administrators soon, and will begin a series of public meetings to discuss educational programs, class sizes, athletics and co-curricular activities.

He said the tough work will take place after the election, when there could be three new members on the School Board.

“There is a lot ahead of us,” Hawkins said.

The School Board will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss stimulus funds and school finances. The board is also expected to take a position on statewide ballot Question 2, the excise tax referendum, and on Question 4, which would set limits on state and local spending.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or