SCARBOROUGH – Residents spoke out Thursday against school budget cuts that would eliminate nearly 24 jobs.

“I can’t look at this many pages of cuts and still feel good about our schools,” Sarah Taylor told the Board of Education.

The $35.3 million budget proposed by interim Superintendent Jo Anne Sizemore for 2011-12 is a 0.6 percent increase over the current budget.

The district expects to lose a total of $958,145 in state funding and federal stimulus funds, and expects an additional decrease of $208,664 in other revenue from sources other than property taxes.

The proposed cuts include the equivalent of more than 12 full-time teaching positions: four at the high school, three at the middle school, two at Wentworth Intermediate School and three at the elementary level.

Part-time teaching jobs in physical education, art and the academically gifted program are also up for elimination.

The school board listened to residents’ comments for nearly an hour during the public hearing. All of the 13 residents who spoke were critical of the cuts.

They spoke about class sizes, the need to bolster programs like foreign language at the middle school, technology offerings and the hardship that activity fees can pose.

“Children are not like roads. They will not remain static over the next few years and they will not get the chance to redo these school years when the economy gets better,” said Debra Fuchs-Ertman.

Some questioned why Scarborough’s school budget should sustain such cuts while the municipal budget appears to be faring better. The $27.6 million budget presented to the Town Council this week would affect just two jobs.

“We need to look somewhere else. This would be the third year in a row that we would balance the budget on the backs of children,” Maureen Desveaux said.

School board member Colleen Staszko said there’s a need to get broader support for a stronger school budget. She said that senior citizens and other people in town must be involved, and that supporters of the schools should consider running for Town Council.

“Folks, if we don’t have any guts, we’re not going to get any glory,” she said. “We are taking away from our kids year after year.”

The school board’s Finance Committee plans to work on the budget today. The school board will consider it for final approval on March 24 and send it to the Town Council.

The council approves the total for the school budget, which also needs approval from voters in a townwide referendum.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]