Optimism, caution as SAD 51 awaits stimulus info

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CUMBERLAND — School Administrative District 51 officials are holding their breath as they wait for more information on the federal stimulus package, which some hope will offset the $350,000 curtailed from their budget earlier this year.
“We’re on the edge of our seats,” Superintendent Bob Hasson said Tuesday, still waiting to know the rules on how the incoming funds can be spent.
Meanwhile, he said, starting this month the state has begun deducting the curtailment amount from the school system’s monthly check, meaning $70,000 less for the month of March.
Although word of the stimulus ending this year’s curtailment “brought a little bit of optimism into this budget year,” Hasson said, nothing is clear yet as to when the money might come or how it will be allowed to be spent. He does expect to hear more this week from the Department of Education. Hasson added that the first time the $787 billion stimulus package was discussed by the DOE, it was expected to restore general aid to schools for the next two years.
Now those figures aren’t clear, so the district is remaining cautious by maintaining a spending freeze until more information is known and the monthly reduction ends.
More is expected to be known before the next School Board meeting, which is scheduled for March 16. The board’s March 2 meeting was canceled because of snow.
Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.