The Cape Elizabeth School Board has held six budget workshops since the beginning of February. Two more are scheduled for Thursday, March 29th and Thursday, April 5th within the CEHS Library at 6:30PM respectively. On Tuesday, April 10th, the School Board will formally vote on the budget which will then be presented to the Town Council for their approval on April 24th.
To say that this is an exceptionally challenging budget cycle, is an understatement. Three consecutive years of state funding cuts have left the district with an extremely diminished ability to continue providing the diverse educational programs our community expects and has mandated this School Board to preserve. Without significantly raising local taxes, the loss of $878K in state funds cannot be absorbed painlessly. With the budget’s current impact on local property taxes being greater than 10%, the focus can only be to maintain progress and continue to serve the needs of all students. Funding new initiatives and/or improving the infrastructure of our buildings is, sadly, presently not within our means.
The School Board is fully aware that an increase to property taxes at this level would be financially challenging for many community members. We do not want to over-burden tax payers and are currently examining all possible ways to reduce expenses and consider creative solutions. However, given that over 80% of the total school budget is spoken for through contractual agreements, there is very little room for further reductions without significantly changing the landscape of our academic programs and reputation. Specifically, without losing personnel and student services.
Therefore, as we approach our final budget workshops, we highly encourage everyone to get involved with this process. Please review the proposed budget material, watch the video recordings of our workshops, and reach out to the School Board if you have comments or questions. All ideas and input, no matter how diverse they may be, are helpful and welcome.
The town is approaching an important crossroads and the direction we take can have a great impact on not only the future of our schools, but of our entire community. These are our schools and this is our town, what we make of them is within our hands. Please join us in our efforts.
Link to budget material and recordings:
Susana Measelle Hubbs
Chairwoman, Cape Elizabeth School Board