SKOWHEGAN — Students attending the two nearby charter schools this fall will pull from $350,000 to $500,000 out of the School Administrative District 54 budget, according to Superintendent Brent Colbry.

Under the state’s charter school law, money for education from the state follows students from the district where they live to the charter school they attend.

Colbry estimates that about 45 students from SAD 54 towns will go to kindergarten through grade 6 at the Cornville Regional Charter School and as many as eight students to the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences on the campus of Good Will-Hinckley in Fairfield.

Although there are no projected layoffs, “I’ve put a spending freeze on for anything non-essential,” he said. “If we don’t need it for this September, we’re not buying it.”

He said some special education technician slots and two library education technician vacancies will not be filled immediately. Travel for conferences also will be limited and he has asked coaches to try to do avoid pre-season scrimmages to other schools.

The Cornville school will have a maximum enrollment this year of 60 students. The state money leaving SAD 54 with each student will range from about $7,000 to $7,700, including transportation costs.

Colbry said with special circumstances, such as funding for free or reduced lunch, limited English proficiency and special education needs, the money could reach $16,900 and as much as $21,000 per student.

“We built the budget based on having this money for this program,” Colbry said. “We lose 45 kids spread out over eight grades, but nothing changes here — our costs stay exactly the same. This money has been committed to operating this district so now we have to give it to somebody else.”

Colbry said the number of children attending Cornville this year is 60, but could go to 90 next year and 120 the third year.

“This came about after we passed the budget; the public had no opportunity to have any input about this and it’s going to have an impact of reducing services for kids,” he said. “What this means for next year most likely is we’ll probably ask for a tax increase or a decrease in programs for the remaining kids. We’re going to have to find this money some place.”

The Cornville Regional Charter School was approved July 17 by the Maine Charter School Commission.

Four teachers and a principal have been hired. Classes are set to begin Oct. 1.

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