TOPSHAM — Maine School Administrative District 75 school board members are considering budget cuts due to the financial hit of the coronavirus pandemic.

School board member Tyler Washburn said last week that he’s concerned that a state revenue shortfall could have result in slashed funding to school districts across the state.

He said he’d like the district to have a plan for how to slash up to $2 million from its budget if needed. That would account for a little more than 4% of the $46.3 million proposed 2020-21 budget, Washburn said.

“Hopefully we don’t even have to go there, but I’d rather be prepared than underprepared,” he added.

The school district, which serves Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham, has started planning for reductions in state funding in the next fiscal year, Superintendent Shawn Chabot said Thursday.

“To be clear, we’re just doing our best guess estimate,” Chabot said. “The (education department) hasn’t put out any official word whatsoever that we’re receiving a curtailment and when that could be, and to the extent that could be.”


Mark Conrad, the district’s business manager, said $2 million in cuts would result in layoffs.

“That’s why I said we’re initially now looking at open positions, not because we’re not suggesting it may not be necessary,” Conrad said.

School board member Eric Lusk said there is a projection that the state’s revenue shortfall in the 2020-21 fiscal year will be in the range of 20%-30%, or $800 million-$1.2 billion. Lusk said a 20% decrease in education funding from the state, which funds about 47% of the MSAD 75 budget, would result in a $4.3 million or 9.5% reduction to the school budget.

“We’ve been hiring people, we’ve been giving out raises over the last month and a half, which frankly I find somewhat astonishing,” Lusk said, given the potential for funding shortfalls.

The school board also hired five new employees during Thursday’s meeting. Washburn abstained from the votes, and Lusk opposed each appointment.

The school district will hold a budget meeting, at 6:30 p.m. on June 25 at the Orion Performing Arts Center at Mt. Ararat Middle School. The resulting budget will be voted up or down at the polls in the four member towns on July 14.




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