Cape Elizabeth’s proposed school budget for 2022-2023 is up $1.4 million, or 4.7%, over this year’s and includes a new math instructional strategist position and a second band teacher.

If approved, the $31.3 million budget would result in about a 5% increase in the school tax rate from $15.28 to $16.04. Under the proposal, the owner of a $500,000 home would pay $8,020 in property taxes earmarked for the schools, a $380 increase from this year.

When combined with the town’s proposed $18.3 million municipal budget, the tax bill for the owner of a $500,000 home would increase a total of $395 over this year.

A town-wide property revaluation scheduled for this summer should bring the tax rate down, however, said Town Manager Matt Sturgis.

“When we finally go to commitment of taxes, it’ll be less than that amount,” Sturgis said at a budget presentation to the Town Council on Monday.

Roughly $385,000 of the proposed school budget goes to creating the new positions, including a math instructional strategist.


“We’re pleased to be adding a math instructional strategist to help all of our teachers be able to differentiate their instructions to meet the learning needs of our students,” Superintendent Chris Record told The Forecaster. “We’ve heard from staff, parents and students alike that we need to help our teachers improve their instructional capacity in math.”

A second band teacher position is also needed, Record said.

“We have 55% of our middle school students take band,” he said, adding that the average middle school band participation in the region is roughly 12%. “Adding that one position helps our students already taking band, but it also helps with expanded learning opportunities.”

Also proposed is a new position for an extended learning instructional strategist, but the cost of that position will be reimbursed by the state. The person hired for that role will work alongside teachers in the classroom to identify the individual needs of students, design and implement differentiated classroom practices for those needs, and monitor students’ responses.

The new positions, Record said, can help Cape Elizabeth mitigate the negative effects the pandemic has had on students’ ability to learn and grow.

“We didn’t see the dramatic dip in learning that we maybe anticipated, but we have seen kind of a flat line,” he said. “Through these positions, we hope to improve our teaching and increase our learning so we’re showing growth.”


The budget proposal also factors in a $200,000 increase in oil and fuel costs and a projected $215,000 increase in collective bargaining negotiations.

“It’s a tight labor market,” Record said. “We want to pay our employees well for their hard work.”

There is also $500,000 allocated for capital improvement projects, including $85,000 for ventilation repairs at the high school and $50,000 for masonry repairs at the Pond Cove and Middle School building.

The council appeared overall to be pleased with Record’s budget plan.

Councilor Penny Jordan questioned why the schools have a director of educational technology but not a director of vocational technology when “we’ve got so many students that would like to pursue careers in trades.” She’d said she like to start “infusing” that idea at the elementary school level.

“I don’t think it’s an overt thing, I think it’s just something we in Cape Elizabeth don’t talk about a lot,” Jordan said.

Record said he supports providing more pathways for students but that budgeting for it is a challenge.

“We need more opportunities, we need more outdoor experiences, we need to get our kids to paths and get them out of our school buildings and into the community,” he said. “The more we do that, it opens their world … of course, all that comes with funding, and so when you need to make tough choices in this budget, as any budget, what do you decide to fund?”

A public hearing on the municipal and school budgets is planned for May 9, with a final council approval vote scheduled for May 16. If approved, the school budget will then go to residents for a validation vote June 14.

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