Cumberland-North Yarmouth school budget to be discussed in forum

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CUMBERLAND — School Administrative District 51 will hold a fiscal 2011 budget forum on Thursday, Feb. 25, to discuss the financial challenges the district faces and the latest information on revenues and expenses.

The forum will be held in the Commons area of Greely High School at 7 p.m.

The Cumberland-North Yarmouth district anticipates a $1.1 million reduction in state aid to its fiscal 2011 budget, according to preliminary figures – a drop from $11.9 million to $10.9 million.

SAD 51 Superintendent Robert Hasson wrote in a Feb. 12 letter to the district communities that the district handled a more than $500,000 shortfall from the state in the current fiscal year by using SAD 51 contingency funds and freezing the budget early this school year.

Hasson noted that the $1.1 million loss in state aid, “coupled with our inability to fund a $500,000 carry forward as we have in past years, combine for a total expected shortfall of $1.6 million for next year.”

He said the district also expects a cumulative reduction in state funding of $2 million for the 2011-12 school year.

Meanwhile, Hasson has been directed by his school board to produce a no-growth operating budget for fiscal 2011. The district’s $28 million operating budget for fiscal 2009 remained the same into fiscal 2010. Hasson has said every position is being reviewed, and that the district is looking at different strategies to lower costs for fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012. The district is also in talks with the SAD 51 Education Association about renegotiating the teachers union contract, he said.

The forum will host small group discussions on topics identified through the first budget forum, held last November, as well as some noted by the SAD 51 administration. Those topics include potential program elimination, class size, special education, possible reductions in co-curricular activities, use of facilities, transportation, maintenance savings and administrative changes.

The School Board will begin its final budget deliberations in March.

“Our hope is that people can take the time from their busy schedules to join us on the 25th,” said board member Jim Bailinson, who chairs the Finance Committee. “We want to help educate the community about the issues involved in developing this year’s budget and involve people in discussions of these issues.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected]

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.