School chief decries new cuts
BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick School Department is staring down deep budget cuts. Again.
In preliminary state education subsidy figures released Thursday by the Maine Department of Education, the Brunswick school district projects to take the hardest hit in the state, losing $1.24 million.
“This is catastrophic because it’s the third year in a row that we’ve had to cut,” Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said in his office Friday. “It’s extremely unacceptable.”
On top of that, Perzanoski said, the district will lose approximately $693,000 in federal money through the expiration of the jobs bill and another $1 million in federal impact aid that came with educating students living at Brunswick Naval Air Station, which closed last May.
Locally, Perzanoski said, Brunswick also expects less in tuition from Durham students who are, as a result of the 2008 school consolidation law, now attending Freeport High School in Regional School Unit 5.
In total, Perzanoski said, he expects the 2012-13 Brunswick School Department budget to reflect a gap of around $3 million, “and that’s before salary increases and benefits.”
Closing that budget gap, Perzanoski said, would have to include cuts to core curriculum.
“English, social studies, science — there’s no way around it,” Perzanoski said. “ We already cut at the elementary level. There’s nothing left to cut but core subjects, programs and administration.”
Since Perzanoski took the helm of Brunswick schools four years ago, he said, the district closed three elementary schools — Hawthorne, Longfellow and Jordan Acres.
The consistent cuts, he said, raise concerns about maintaining a level of education that would attract families to Brunswick.
“We’re not going to be as inviting,” Perzanoski said. “Would you consider a dis- trict that’s closed three schools in the last four years, has class sizes that are going up and has had to cut 90 staff in the last three years and now probably 30, 40 or 50 more? Would you want to move into town?”
Perzanoski said townspeople “need to get involved” in efforts to respond to the projected cuts.
“There’s been a lot of apathy and if the apathy continues, the quality of education in Brunswick will be gone,” Perzanoski said. “The perception of a strong school department in Brunswick is going to be in jeopardy.”
On a Facebook post early Saturday morning, Brunswick School Board member Rich Ellis outlined decreases in state funding to the district since 2006 and encouraged residents to get involved with a “call to action” and a list of contact information for Brunswick’s state legislative delegation.
On Feb. 29, the school department will host a public forum on the 2012-13 school budget, starting at 6 p.m. in the town council chambers at Brunswick Station.
Perzanoski said he had calls in to the Department of Education on Friday. He also plans to contact local legislators, although he said he is “not hopeful at all” that the funding projection will change.
“It’s not even close to fair,” Perzanoski said. “We’ve had to pull rabbits out of the hat for three years and we’re just out of rabbits.”