School budgets OK'd in South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Voters throughout the area came out Tuesday to support their local school budgets.

In South Portland, voters approved a $42.8 million school budget for fiscal 2012 by a 2-1 margin.

According to unofficial results, South Portland residents voted 2,458 to 1,226 in favor of a budget that would increase taxes by about 1 percent, adding about 10 cents to the city’s property tax rate.

“We are very pleased with the vote,” Superintendent of Schools Suzanne Godin said Wednesday. “The 2-1 margin was similar to the (November 2010) high school referendum vote, which together is a strong show of community support for South Portland schools.”

Scarborough

In Scarborough, 1,634 voters turned out and approved the $35.6 million school budget Tuesday, by just over 100 votes.

According to unofficial results, the budget passed 856-753. The total of just over 1,600 voters represented about 11 percent of the town’s 14,705 registered voters.

Despite an increase of 1.6 percent, or just over $500,000, in the total budget over this year, the school budget eliminates more than 17 full-time jobs.

The positions cut include several foreign language teachers, physical educations teachers, guidance counselors, special education instructors and five classroom teachers in kindergarten through eighth grade. Class sizes will be increased and the seventh-grade foreign language program will be eliminated.

A previously proposed plan to increase activity fees was scrapped, however students at Wentworth Intermediate School will have to pay the fees that were assessed last year only at the middle school and high school.

The school budget, combined with the Town Council-approved municipal budget, will raise taxes 2.89 percent, increasing the property tax rate 36 cents to $12.99 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Last year the school budget failed at the first referendum. It passed in a second vote after the council restored $100,000.

Cape Elizabeth

Residents of Cape Elizabeth voted 1,837 to 686 in favor of the School Board’s $21 million budget for fiscal year 2012.

In an advisory vote, 1,288 residents said the school budget was acceptable, 813 residents thought it was too high and 279 thought it was too low.

The $21 million school budget adds about $448,000, or 2.2 percent, to the current school budget, and will result in a 33-cent, or 2.6 percent, increase in the $12.89 tax rate for school services.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Ken Murphy said he appreciated the overwhelming community support for the budget.

“It’s very reassuring to see such a great response,” he said.

According to Town Clerk Debra Lane, voter turnout was 35 percent. Lane said there are about 7,500 registered voters in Cape Elizabeth.

“The turnout is better than I expected,” she said Tuesday. “Cape residents are active and they do get out and vote.”

Amy Anderson and Randy Billings contributed to this story. Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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