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08/27/2018 - updated 09/11/2018

Voters to decide on Cape school membership in Regional Service Center

Cape Elizabeth voters will be asked to approve the School Department's plan to join a partnership of 10 other school systems to leverage purchasing power and expand opportunities for professional development.

The Town Council on Aug. 13, 2018 voted to include a question on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters to OK collaboration, through an interlocal agreement, with the Greater Sebago Education Alliance Regional Service Center.

The state's Regional Services Initiative offers funding incentives for participation in such groups, subject to voter approval. Additional revenue of $46 per student, multiplied by Cape Elizabeth's state subsidy minimum share of 30 percent ($22,000), is included in Cape Elizabeth's state subsidy calculation for this fiscal year and will become available once the agreement is approved. The incentive is slated to rise to $96 per student next year.

The Greater Sebago Education Alliance, the group Cape Elizabeth plans to join, has received Department of Education Approval as a regional service center and includes Brunswick, Gorham, Scarborough, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, RSU 5 (Freeport), RSU 14 (Windham-Raymond), MSAD 15 (Gray-New Gloucester) and MSAD 6 (Bonney Eagle).

The School Board approved Cape Elizabeth's participation in the Greater Sebago Education Alliance in April, and approved the interlocal agreement on Aug. 28. Voters will be asked to approve the same agreement at the polls Nov. 6.

Here is the text of the ballot question:

Do you favor a plan for the Cape Elizabeth School Department to join the Greater Sebago Education Alliance Regional Service Center through an interlocal agreement that will allow the School Department to receive additional revenue through the state funding formula and to more efficiently procure goods and services?

The council's vote to place the referendum on the ballot was accompanied by a memo from School Superintendent Donna Wolfrom assuming that the full $46 per student would be available to schools on approving the agreement. Wolfrom however later learned that the revenue incentive, based on an Oct. 1, 2017 enrollment of 1,603, will mean a subsidy incentive of $22,121.40 for Cape Elizabeth after the funding formula is applied.

Town Manager Matthew Sturgis clarified the amount in his report to the Town Council on Sept. 10.