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Schools moving to join alliance for some administrative, educational functions

Cape Elizabeth is moving closer to joining 10 other school systems to create a state-sanctioned regional service center for some administrative and educational functions.

The School Board on April 10, 2018 approved its part in a Regional Service Center Part II application to form the Greater Sebago Educational Alliance, along with schools in Brunswick, Gorham, Portland, South Portland, Scarborough, Westbrook, MSAD 6, MSAD 15, RSU 5 and RSU 14. The move could mean greater and more efficient access to functions including food services, professional development, recruitment and training of substitutes, and diversity of staff.

"While the GSEA does not anticipate major savings will be realized through these collaborative programs and services, the GSEA does believe that the economy of scale will improve the quality of services provided and provide efficiencies and effectiveness of programs," according to the draft application.

The state, as part of the most recent biennial budget, is supporting formation and participation in regional service centers through grants and through state subsidy. Cape Elizabeth's allocation of $22,121.40 for regionalization and efficiency assistance, awarded for taking preliminary steps in the program, could be withheld if the schools do not complete the process.

School Board members, however, welcomed the opportunity. "When this sort of mandate came down, I think it was quite concerning because when you force regionalization, you're often forced to tackle problems that are not regional problems," said member John Voltz, chair of the board's finance committee. However, "all of the things that are on this list are things can be solved on a regional basis, that will be of benefit to all."

Membership offers what Interim Superintendent Howard Colter called a menu of options schools can participate in. "You pick and choose what you want to do and you can back out, you're not committed for life," he said.

If the application is approved by the state, membership will also require a formal interlocal agreement approved by the School Board and by voter referendum. Cape's application anticipates a referendum in November 2018.

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