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Brunswick School Department braces for state aid curtailment

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Brunswick School Department braces for state aid curtailment

BRUNSWICK — The School Department anticipates it will have slash approximately $664,000 from its budget to cope with an expected state aid curtailment.

School Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said Tuesday that he expected the official curtailment edict to be announced later this week, when Gov. John Baldacci pulls back an estimated $38 million in state education funding to help meet a statewide savings target of $200 million. 

Perzanoski said the local cut is 1.4 times last year's curtailment of more than $474,000. He said he is confident Brunswick can absorb another cut by continuing a freeze on nonessential purchases.

However, Perzanoski said he worries about the local impact of future funding cuts. The state has already announced that it may have to slice another $36 million from education funding next year if revenues don't soon improve.

"We can't do it forever," Perzanoski said. "We've already done it two years in a row. The more you get behind in books and materials, the more difficult it is to catch up."

Perzanoski added that the district will face difficult budget choices next year. Although the district saved $3.6 million through the freeze, Perzanoski said the district is working to preserve morale.

"People are concerned naturally," he said. "They've expressed thanks in the way we're going about this, but there's also a lot of anxiety. We're trying to make that anxiety workable so it's not passed on to our kids."

He said the freeze on nonessentials will impact student field trips, but planned excursions would hopefully continue through fundraisers and donations. 

"Just because they're designated nonessential, doesn't mean they're not a good idea or important," Perzanoski said.

Meanwhile, the district is preparing for a Nov. 19 groundbreaking for a new elementary school on McKeen Street. The School Board on Oct. 28 voted 5-1 to accept a $14.4 million construction bid for facility. 

The district is also considering a reconfiguring grades at Jordan Acres and Coffin Elementary Schools. One option would send students in kindergarten through grade 2 to both schools, while others include pre-kindergarten through grade 2 at both schools, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at Jordan Acres, grades 1 and 2 at Coffin or school choice. 

The School Board is expected to decide on the configuration next year. For now, the district is seeking resident input through a survey. It can found at brunswick.k12.me.us.

 Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net

 
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that School
Department wages had been frozen for nearly a year. According to the
School Department, the only freeze has been on non-essential programs.