Education Budget Hearing Friday, March 3rd- Governor’s Budget Creates Winners and Losers
New figures from MDOE detail funding losses for some school districts-cuts as deep as 40% of budget,
impacting nearly 2/3 of all Maine students
On Friday, March 3rd at 10am, lawmakers will begin discussing the education portion of Governor LePage’s budget proposal in the Appropriations Committee. More than 50 people* have signed up through the MEA to testify against the Governor’s budget proposal. Analysis of the budget now reveals the Governor’s message to lawmakers during the State of the State to “do no harm” will in fact harm thousands of students. The Governor’s budget proposal and his failure to impact the will of the voters by ignoring Question 2 has a net impact of a loss of $190 million in education funding over the next school year.
According to data from the Maine Department of Education, calculations show that almost 2/3 of Maine students (65%) live in districts that will see a decline in education funding from the state if the Governor’s budget proposal is approved. Scarborough and Caribou are among the worst hit towns with a reduction in education funding from the state of $1.4 million (40.1% of state share) and $793,835, (7.4% of state share), respectively. These figures do not include what each district would receive if Question 2 were implemented.
Each year, the Maine Department of Education calculates how much each school district will receive in state funding. The data from those calculations shows some communities receiving millions less in funding, while others receive an increase, creating inequities for Maine students.
“The Governor’s budget creates winners and losers and clearly ignores the will of Maine people who spoke on Election Day when they voted to pass Question 2. Those voters wanted to provide more funding for our schools, not less. They didn’t ask to help some students and not others. Voters supported increasing education funding, they didn’t ask to create a system of winners and losers where one community gets millions more and another gets millions less. Only through the implementation of Question 2 will all kids be winners and we, as a state, will truly “do no harm” to our students,” said Lois Kilby-Chesley, President of the Maine Education Association.
By law, the Maine Department of Education is supposed to base its funding calculations off of state law, and not a budget proposal. Current state law includes the funding from Question 2.
For background: Question 2 will generate an estimated $190 million for schools from implementation to June 30, 2018. This is slightly more than is necessary to get all schools to 55% state funding for the 2017-18 school year. Voters in 2004 demanded, through a separate ballot initiative, to make the state fund 55% of the total cost of education. That funding mandate has never been achieved.
Below is a sample of some of the impacts from the Governor’s budget proposal
Town/School District Loss from Current School Year:
RSU 2 (Hallowell, Richmond) -$591,623
RSU 6 (Bonny Eagle) -$1,006,114
RSU 14 (Windham) -$816,428
RSU 18 (Belgrade) -$774,696
RSU 19 (Newport) -$715,376
RSU 35 (Eliot, S Berwick) -$768,507
RSU 39 (Caribou) -$793,835
RSU 54 (Skowhegan) -$673,493
RSU 55 (Hiram, Cornish) -$615,840
****TEACHERS, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS, PARENTS WILL ALL BE ON HAND DURING THE HEARING. INTERVIEWS CAN BE ARRANGED DURING THE HEARING.****