Several new positions would be added at the high school if the principal’s budget requests are approved for next year. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — The initial school budget proposed by principals and administrators last month for the 2021 fiscal year includes an increase of about 8%, or about $2.1 million more than the current year’s school budget of $26.8 million.

In other budget discussions, the high school principal is requesting several new additions to his teaching staff due to an increase in the student population.

Superintendent Donna Wolfrom said the initial fiscal year 2019-20 school budget proposal was about 7.8% higher than the year before, but the final budget came in at about 5.9% higher than FY 2018-19. With that in mind, she expects the final school budget for 2020-21 will be lower than the early draft.

According to preliminary estimates, Cape Elizabeth is expected to see a state subsidy of about $1.73 million, an increase of about $36,300, Wolfram said.

Cape Elizabeth’s tax rate is $19.68 per $1,000 of real estate valuation, of which $14.30, or 73%, is driven by the school budget. School officials did not have information on how the current school budget proposal, if passed, could impact the tax rate.

“We are at the beginning of the process and it is likely the final budget will look different,” said School Board Chairwoman Heather Altenburg in an email.  “Our job as a board is to ask questions, but not request for specific items to be removed or added to the budget.  We look at the whole of the budget and after a thorough review and considering the impact on the taxpayers, we will ask for a revised budget if we feel it is needed.”

Cape Elizabeth High School Principal Jeffrey Shedd said his current-year budget had been reduced by two part-time positions because a reduction in the student body was expected. However, a number of families moved to Cape Elizabeth in summer 2019, resulting in more students than expected and more crowded classrooms this year. Shedd said he would like to add staffers to reflect the increase of students both in this current year and the anticipated increase of 24 pupils in September’s incoming freshman class.

Shedd is asking for an additional full-time English teacher, a .6 math teacher position, a .75 science teacher position, a .4 teacher leader position, a .4 French teacher, a .3 elective teacher position and a full-time library aid.

Pond Cove Elementary School Principal Jason Manjourides has requested funding for an additional school counselor. He said at a Jan. 21 board meeting that the school has one counselor and an additional counselor would help provide better and more consistent services to the school’s 521 students.

Manjourides is also requesting an additional fourth grade teacher due to an increase in student enrollment, as well as an educational technician and a permanent substitute teacher.

Cape Elizabeth Middle School Principal Troy Eastman is looking to reduce its staff by one teacher, as that school is expecting 47 fewer students next year.

Along with a groundskeeper, Athletic Director Jeff Thoreck is asking for an additional middle school indoor track coach because more students are participating in the program.

Wolfrom is asking for a half-time Licensed Practical Nurse, with the cost being split among the three schools, and Director of Special Services Del Peavey is requesting an additional educational technician.

Other proposed changes in the budget include Transportation and Facilities Director’s Perry Schwarz request for a new maintenance vehicle, school facility repairs and security upgrades.

Questions that School board members have submitted about the proposed budget to school administrators will be addressed at the next budget meeting, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the Cape Elizabeth High School library.

School Board member Elizabeth Scifres, who is also chairwoman of the school’s finance committee, said if residents have questions about the budget, to email them to her at [email protected] at least three days the meeting.

The budget will be discussed at a series of meetings before the school board votes on a final proposal on April 14. More information on the schedule can be found on the Cape Elizabeth school department website at www.cape.k12.me.us.

The proposal will go before the Town Council for a vote on May 11. Residents will have the final say during a town-wide referendum June 9.

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