School district will freeze hiring, cut expenditures

Portland Public Schools officials are cutting $870,089 from the current operating budget by adopting a hiring freeze and taking other money-saving measures in anticipation of decreases in state aid.

The measures were announced Friday by Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, who said the cuts are in response to Gov. Paul LePage’s December curtailment order to eliminate $12.6 million in general purpose aid to Maine schools.

Last week, the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee approved LePage’s order, which is now awaiting action by the full Legislature.

Caulk said Portland schools must start preparing now for the possible adoption of LePage’s order.

“As difficult as it is to absorb these cuts more than halfway into the school year, we remain committed to using all available resources to support student achievement,” Caulk said.

The hiring freeze, which applies to all noncritical positions, could save $200,000 to $300,000, school officials said. The district is freezing the purchase of all books and periodicals; nonessential athletic and co-curricular supplies; staff travel that is not contractually obligated; and the use of the Portland school board’s contingency fund.

Caulk said he does not expect the financial situation to improve any time soon, due to a $700 million revenue gap expected in the next biennial state budget; the opening of new charter schools, which will take money from public schools; rising costs; and a sluggish economy.

Burglary suspect charged following high-speed chase

A Portland man faces multiple charges following a high-speed police chase from Saco to Portland early Saturday morning.

Portland police Lt. Robert Doherty said Portland police helped apprehend Albert Dadiego, 36, who was discovered breaking into a building by Saco police after midnight Friday.

Saco police said they responded to a burglary at Vacationland Bowling Center, 812 Portland Road, at 1:41 a.m. Saturday after being contacted by an alarm company. The first officer on the scene saw a red 1999 GMC pickup truck leaving the parking lot at a high speed and tried to stop it.

The truck left the turnpike at Exit 48 and continued on Riverside Drive toward Warren Avenue, where the vehicle hit a snowbank. Dadiego then ran from the truck, police said.

Portland police used dogs to track Dadiego to Hammond Lumber Co. at 300 Riverside St., where he hid on a roof. He injured his legs when he jumped from the roof.

Dadiego is being treated for injuries at Maine Medical Center. He is being charged with Class B burglary and other counts.

Saco police have also arrested James W. Green Jr., 31, of Bangor in connection with the burglary. Green, who was found walking on Milliken Road in Saco at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, is being held at York County Jail in Alfred on $10,000 bail.


Free-fishing weekend aims to lure newcomers to sport

Maine wildlife officials say people can fish for free this weekend, providing a chance for people to try their hand at the sport for the first time.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, anybody can fish on Maine’s waterways without a license on Saturday and Sunday, except those who have had their license suspended or revoked.

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock said the department is offering the free-fishing weekend in hopes that more people will be introduced to the state’s many winter fishing opportunities, particularly on the frozen lakes and ponds.

Scallop fishery will face no reductions this week

Maine Marine Resources officials say there will be no additional closures, reductions of the daily possession limit or reduction of fishing days in the scallop fishery this week.

The decision follows close monitoring of the fishery since the beginning of the season.

However, officials expect that an emergency rule will be issued Feb. 25 to close the Whiting and Denny’s Bay Zone 3 Limited Access Area for the season.

— From staff and news service reports