Biddeford’s school department isn’t immune from the budget cuts that are rattling education officials across Maine. The department expects nearly $1.4 million less in state aid for 2010-11 than it was supposed to get this school year.

School officials also must address a request from the City Council to pass a budget that doesn’t require a tax increase, said Superintendent Sarah-Jane Poli.

Poli said the budget she will give to the School Committee’s finance committee next week would cut spending from the current level of more than $29.6 million, but most likely won’t be ”low enough to meet what the City Council wants.”

Poli said she asked administrators to consider the budget situation when they drew up their plans for next year, and to focus on cuts that would have the least impact on students. But she said that if the council insists on no tax increase, layoffs might be needed.

That would probably mean about 25 positions, she said, since a reduction of $1 million in education typically equates to 20 jobs.

Poli said any layoffs ”will not be made lightly,” but she noted that salaries make up about 85 percent of the school department’s operating budget, so any significant reduction in spending probably will affect jobs.

School officials are still negotiating with six unions with contracts that expired in July, she said, so it’s hard to determine how much will be needed for salaries.

Business Manager Terry Gauvin said the school department lost about $826,000 in expected state funding this year because of curtailments, but that was offset by federal stimulus money.

The stimulus money is expected to increase in the year that starts July 1, partially offsetting the loss of state aid, but the $1.4 million reduction is a net figure — after accounting for federal aid, she said.

Poli said the finance committee will have to send its budget proposal to the School Committee in time for it to act by March 9. After that, the budget goes to the City Council, which can adopt it or send it back to the School Committee.

Once the council approves the budget, it will go to voters for validation, Poli said.



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