SCARBOROUGH – In an attempt to restore some of the positions and programs that were cut or reduced during the past several years, Scarborough Superintendent George Entwistle has proposed a new fiscal year budget of $43.4 million for the town’s schools.

That’s a nearly $4 million increase from this year’s spending, or a percentage increase approaching 10 percent. Entwistle presented his 2014-2015 budget to the Board of Education last week, and now it will go to the Town Council for a first reading at 7 p.m. on April 2.

After that, the school board will hold several workshops before the scheduled public hearing on both the school and municipal budgets on April 16. The school board will then hold its final budget vote on May 1, and the local referendum on the school budget is scheduled for May 13.

In his presentation to the school board on March 20, Entwistle said his budget “maintains a continuous improvement focus” and builds on investments the school district has already made in college and career readiness, world language fluency and in science, technology, engineering and math.

Part of the significant rise in the school budget, according to Entwistle, is due to increases in salary and benefits for district employees, which is projected at $1.9 million more than in the current budget.

In addition, Entwistle said that Scarborough schools, like other districts across the state, are the victims of increases in contracted services and cost shifts from the state. He estimates that these cost drivers, along with debt service, constitute nearly $1.1 million of the increase in the school budget.

Within the proposed budget, Entwistle is recommending that the school board reinstate 14 of the 25 full-time positions that were cut during the past several years, going back to the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget.

Other “investments and program restorations” that Entwistle proposed last week include adding guidance, art and music staff at the high school, world language, physical education and art and music staff at the middle school and more English as a second language and reading staff at the primary school level.

District wide, the superintendent proposed hiring a psychologist, more occupational therapy staff and an athletic trainer, along with an increased focus on “technology integration.” All of which would cost an additional $940,000.

On the other side of the equation, Entwistle is anticipating that the school district would see a more than $1 million increase in revenues, including a nearly $605,000 increase in state aid to education. But, the Maine Legislature has yet to approve the amount of subsidy allocated to the various school districts by the Maine Department of Education.

In justifying his budget request, Entwistle pointed out to the school board that Scarborough still spends well below the state average in terms of per-pupil costs and noted that surrounding school districts, including Gorham and South Portland, spend more.

A CLOSER LOOK

The Scarborough Town Council will get its first look at the proposed new fiscal year municipal budget at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, at town hall.


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