August 1, 2013

Maine school funding study gets mixed reception

Suggestions include boosting the 'circuit breaker' program to ease the burden on low-income residents, which Maine recently eliminated.

By Steve Mistler
Staff Writer

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To improve schools, an independent study suggests boosting the 'circuit breaker' program to ease the burden on low-income residents, which Maine recently eliminated. Above, the recent memo sent to residents letting them know their refund check wasn't coming because the program had been repealed.

It also found that while school funding grew in recent years, students' performance has been relatively flat. Test scores compared with the rest of the country are relatively strong, the report said, but about average in New England.

According to recent U.S. Census data, from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010 state and local revenue for public K-12 education in Maine grew from $1.62 billion to $2.35 billion, 45 percent. During the same period, state and local revenue for K-12 education in all 50 states increased by 49.4 percent.

From 1999-2000 to 2009-10, Maine's per pupil expenditures grew from $7,595 to $12,259, an increase of 61.4 percent. Average per pupil expenditures on a national level increased from $6,836 to $10,600, a 55.1 percent increase.

Wednesday's review also touched on teachers' salaries, teacher-student ratios and recommended administrators per district.

Picus recommended one principal per 450 students in elementary and middle schools and one principal per 600 high school students. The state's funding formula prescribes one principal per 305 students in elementary and middle school and one per 315 students in high school.

Lawmakers will continue evaluating the study this year and potentially adopt some of its recommendations.


Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

Twitter: @stevemistler


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