$300K in staff cuts still required
CAPE ELIZABETH — The school superintendent has proposed a 2 percent increase in spending next year that would add 50 cents to the tax rate for school services, bringing it to $12.84.
The $20 million proposal – which must go through public hearings at both the School Board and Town Council, and ultimately a public referendum – represents $1.2 million in increases, mostly in contracted salaries and benefits. There are also more than $800,000 in reductions, including $300,000 in staff cuts. The current budget is $19.8 million.
In an introduction to his proposed budget, Superintendent Alan Hawkins said “the financial status of a school system does not require unprecedented spending, but it does need to provide the basis for quality teaching for learning.”
In creating the proposed budget, Hawkins heard from administrators in each school, who tried to balance the impact on students of program or staff eliminations; the core priorities of the schools as defined by the mission statement, central academic focus and previously identified areas of improvement; creative alternatives to address program or position cuts, and the impact on class sizes.
At the high school, proposed staff cuts recommended by Principal Jeff Shedd include:
• A full-time executive skills teacher (half-time in regular teaching and half-time at the Achievement Center).
• A half-time substance abuse counselor.
• A 1/10-time choral music teacher.
• A 2/10-time math instructor.
• 2/10-time Latin instructor (which will limit Latin offerings to one class).
The high school has also proposed adding a quarter-time nursing position to address increased student medical needs and bring the number of full-time registered nurses to one per school.
Total proposed staffing changes at the high school represent a decrease of $116,000.
At the middle school, Principal Steve Connolly recommended cutting:
• A 4/10-time technology teacher.
• A 3/10-time seventh- and eighth-grade social studies and language arts teacher.
• A full-time education techician.
• A half-time library ed tech.
• A half-time technology ed tech.
• Co-curricular stipends for Student Study Team, outdoor experience and other activities.
Staff cuts at the middle school would save $111,000.
At Pond Cove Elementary, Principal Tom Eismeier recommended cutting:
• One second-grade teacher, reflecting a decline in enrollment.
• Summer school and Student Study Team stipends.
The total savings from those cuts would be $47,000.
Additional staffing cuts were proposed by the Athletic Department, which recommended eliminating freshman team coach stipends, with the hope that team boosters may be able to help fund some of those positions. Additionally, some administrative duties for middle school athletics are proposed to be shifted to Community Services.
The savings from proposed athletic cuts total $16,000.
Outside of salaries and benefits, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the School Department budget, additional savings recommendations have been outlined.
The schools have cut down on electricity usage through measures adopted by Facilities Manager Ernie MacVane, for a total expected savings of $6,200. In addition, the school was able to lock in oil prices for next year at $1.94 per gallon, which is a nearly $180,000 reduction from this year’s budget.
Other line-items reductions in Hawkin’s proposal include staff development and course reimbursement, equipment, textbooks, software, travel and printing.
The first of three scheduled public forums was held Thursday, after The Forecaster’s deadline. Additional forums have been scheduled for Feb. 24 and 26. Each will be held at the high school library, and will begin at 7 p.m.
The School Board will adopt a budget at its March 10 meeting. The Town Council will vote on or before its April 1 meeting. The budget is scheduled for public referendum on May 12.