Scarborough school budget would cut 2 dozen jobs, increase activity fees

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SCARBOROUGH — The School Department has started the process of cutting teaching and maintenance staff, as well as instructional materials, in next year’s budget.

At last week’s School Board meeting, Acting Superintendent JoAnne Sizemore presented the first draft of a $35.3 million fiscal 2012 budget, an increase of 0.6 percent over this year.

The proposal includes cutting nearly 24 jobs to help reduce operating expenses by $1.3 million, and requests an additional $780,000 from the town to make up for the loss of several revenue sources.

Sizemore proposed cutting more than 14 full-time equivalent teaching positions, including several homeroom teachers and several foreign language teachers, which will have the effect of eliminating the foreign language programs in grades 3-5. The budget also eliminates the kindergarten-grade 2 guidance counselor and a physical education instructor at the middle school.

“State funding has decreased 26.5 percent over the past five years,” Sizemore said. “In these economic times, we wanted to produce a fiscally responsible budget, so we reduced our expenses by $1.3 million.”

Last year the district cut more than 27 full-time positions and added pay-to-play fees for athletics and extra-curricular activities. Next year’s preliminary budget proposal increases the pay-to-play fee by $25 per activity and adds a $25 fee for Wentworth Intermediate School activities.

“During this year’s process, we studied enrollment, budget review and program redesign,” Sizemore said.

Across the entire district, the new budget proposes increasing class sizes slightly, as well as eliminating some instructional supplies, such as the Rosetta Stone language software and other web-based materials.

The reductions also include the elimination of three custodians and three maintenance workers. Four of those six positions are currently unfilled.

No cuts were proposed for the administrative side.

“Our administrative staffing is currently very lean,” Sizemore said.

Along with the reductions, the superintendent requested two additions to the budget: A webmaster/technology applications specialist and a part-time activity/athletics accounts receivable clerk to help process the collection of activity fees.

Sizemore said the webmaster would be in charge of managing online content and dealing with other technology issues.

Her presentation was the first in the discussion process before a final budget is ratified by the Town Council and sent to voters on May 17.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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