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04/11/2018 - updated 04/12/2018

School Board adopts $25.6 million budget for 2019

The School Board on April 10, 2018 adopted a school budget of $25,641,276, up 3.1 percent over this year's.

Proposed spending is up 3.1 percent, but revenues are down nearly 47 percent primarily because of a $897,775 reduction in state subsidy. The budget poses school tax rate of $14.03, up $1.30 over this year's rate of $12.73 for school services, an increase of 10.2 percent. The Town Council, which has the final say over municipal spending totals, will hold a budget workshop with the board at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12 before the School Board's formal presentation to the council on April 24.

The board adopted the budget unanimously, though board Finance Chair John Voltz referred to it as "not a happy" budget.

"This is not a situation where you come out and feel like you really got what you needed," said Voltz. Elizabeth Scifres, another board member, called it a "maintenance budget" and added, "We are pushing some very important issues down the road. They're going to come back to us, (and) our buildings are very high on that list."

Compared to the preliminary $25,757,632 budget Interim Superintendent Howard Colter proposed in Feburary, the adopted budget has $249,350 more for engineering and architect's fees for a feasibility study for school renovations, with an eye toward bonding future projects; and, $60,000 for an added custodian at the High School. Health insurance is also budgeted to increase 8.75 percent, rather than the original 8 percent. [download summary of changes]. The adopted budget also reduces or eliminates $365,706 worth of preliminary proposals, the largest being $115,240 for Pond Cove School playground and other capital improvements.

During budget review, board members said, they were constantly aware of the double-digit tax increase, and lauded the Town Council's recent proposal to introduce a tax-relief program for senior citizens. "This program would support our most vulnerable citizens while continuing to provide excellent education to our students," said board member Heather Altenburg, in a prepared statement read by board Chair Susana Measelle Hubbs. Both Altenburg and Kimberly Carr were absent, but submitted letters supporting the budget.

Board member Scifres said she saw the tax-relief program as a step toward resolving a problem created by a lack of education funding. "I believe that tax increases above a certain percent for fixed income people is difficult, I don't doubt that or dispute that. But what I do dispute is that you solve that on the backs of children," Scifres said. "That's not how you solve it. You solve it by helping the people that need help."

Scifres and other board members called for the community to come together to support a shared value of quality education for the children of Cape Elizabeth.

The board held two informational budget forums on April 11. Board members encouraged attendance at these; and future Town Council budget meetings scheduled for April 12, 24 and possibly 25; and to attend the public hearing on the overall municipal budget on May 7.

Final budget adoption by the Town Council will be May 14. The school budget validation referendum is June 12.

Budget details are available on the School Department's website.

Future budget meeting summary:

Wednesday, April 11
6-7 p.m.
Town Hall Chamber [directions]
School Board Public Budget Forums

  • Questions and Answers about the fiscal 2019 school budget


Thursday, April 12
7 p.m.
Town Hall [directions]
Town Council budget workshop with the School Board


Tuesday, April 24
7 p.m.
Town Hall [directions]
School Board budget presentation to Town Council Finance Committee


Monday, May 7
7 p.m.
Town Hall Chamber [directions]
Town Council Special Meeting


Monday, May 14
7 p.m.
Town Hall Chamber [directions]
Town Council Regular Monthly Meeting


Tuesday, June 12
7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cape Elizabeth High School [directions]

  • School Budget Validation

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