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Curtailment panel seeks input from Cape Elizabeth residents on Dec. 8

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Curtailment panel seeks input from Cape Elizabeth residents on Dec. 8

CAPE ELIZABETH — School Board members Rebecca Millett and Kathy Ray were appointed Tuesday to an ad hoc committee that will help formulate ways to cope with the curtailment of school aid from the state.

The committee was proposed after the Nov. 20 announcement by Gov. John Baldacci that $63 million would be cut from the state budget, including a $38 million reduction in the state's general purpose aid to education. In Cape Elizabeth, that reduction means a loss of nearly $621,000 in the current school budget.

The seven-member committee also includes Town Council Chairwoman Anne Swift-Kayatta, Councilor Sara Lennon, Tim Thompson as a representative of Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation, Dwight Ely as a representative of the Cape Elizabeth Educational Administrators Association, and a student representative. At the Dec. 1 meeting, Millet was named chairwoman of the committee.

The panel will hold a workshop on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria to allow an open, public discussion of the topic.

Millett said while the workshop is an opportunity for the community to come together to brainstorm ideas about the curtailment, it is not a time for personal opinions.

"This gathering is all about problem solving," she said.

The group's goal is to prepare recommendations for addressing the financial needs of the schools in response to this year's budget cuts and the aid curtailments that may follow in upcoming years.

The committee will work with Superintendent Alan Hawkins, Town Manager Michael McGovern and the business manager, and will present a report to the School Board no later than Jan. 15.

In the meantime, Millett said she, Hawkins, Lennon, Councilor-elect Frank Governali, Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, Rep. Jane Eberly, D-South Portland and Rep. Larry Bliss, D-South Portland, met with Jim Rier, the director of finance and operations for the Department of Education.

Millet said they discussed trends for the funding formula, valuation spikes, stimulus funding and consolidation penalties in a meeting that was productive.

On Monday, Dec. 14, the new members of the School Board will be sworn in at the Town Hall chamber. After the ceremony, the board will hold a brief caucus in the superintendent's office to discuss the election of new officers and committee assignments.

In other business, Hawkins on Tuesday honored the three members who are leaving the board. Chairwoman Trish Brigham has served for six years, and Peter Cotter and Karen Burke each served one, three-year term.

Hawkins noted each board member's dedication to serving the students, teachers and community, and recognized their commitment to quality education.

The next School Board workshop will be held Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall council chambers.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net