AUGUSTA — The city’s schools are slated to receive about $710,000 less in state education funding than anticipated in the proposed school budget.

That’s left school officials scrambling to find even more ways to cut expenses, since the proposed budget was already slated to require a 4.26 percent increase in property taxes.

The state Department of Education released estimated funding levels for all Maine schools late last week.

Under those estimates, Augusta would receive $12.26 million in state education funding, which is $514,000 less than it received last year. That total is also $708,000 less than the $12.97 million officials expected to receive, based on previous state projections.

Superintendent Cornelia Brown presented the proposed $27.5 million school budget to the Board of Education last week. Unless school officials make additional cuts to expenses, the proposed 4.26 percent tax increase could be even higher.

Brown, however, indicated that additional cuts — not higher taxes — is the likely solution.

“The board felt pretty strongly they’re not able to send on a 4 percent tax increase,” Brown said. “I don’t know what kind of increase they will be comfortable with, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be looking for $800,000 to $1.2 million (in cuts). That’s a big number.”

City Manager William Bridgeo and Brown said the total state funding estimate for all schools in Maine has not changed from previous projections. However, Augusta is slated to receive less than anticipated in those same projections because of the state school funding formula.

Factors affecting Augusta’s education aid include previous cuts to programing at Capital Area Technical Center, a decrease in the number of students, and in increase in the number of students paying tuition, Brown said.

Brown said she’ll have a list of potential cuts to close the budget gap ready for the Board of Education at a meeting scheduled for next Wednesday.

There will also be an opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed budget at tonight’s Board of Education meeting, which is at 7 in the auditorium at Cony High School.

Board members are also scheduled to:

* hear a presentation from officials of Revise Energy to install alternative energy sources in some school buildings;

* hear a presentation on the Business Careers Academy at Capital Area Technical Center;

* consider approving student and staff travel requests;

* consider adopting a school year calendar for 2012 to 2013;

* consider setting policy on academic eligibility requirements to participate in sports and other after-school activities; and

* meet in a closed-door session to discuss personnel and labor relations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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