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Increased state funding means great things for Biddeford schools

Governor LePage’s budget proposal will mean a loss of funds for some school districts but bodes well for Biddeford.

Conlon Kane, Staff Writer

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Governor LePage’s budget proposal will mean a loss of funds for some school districts but bodes well for Biddeford.

While communities like Falmouth stand to lose significant state funding, Biddeford and other districts will gain a substantial amount of money for their educational systems.  Under LePage’s plan, Biddeford will gain $944,468.63 in state subsidy.  

The Maine State Educational spending budget is calculated by district using the EPS Formula.  The EPS formula is used to calculate how much money is given to each district based on the number of students and the amount of real estate within the district.

Biddeford superintendent Jeremy Ray said, “The EPS Formula is a fair formula overall.”

One of the factors for the budget change in the state is an overall decrease in student enrollment in schools.  Not unlike the rest of the state, Biddeford has also experienced a decrease in student enrollment over the past ten years.  According to Ray one of the reasons for this is “jobs that left Biddeford,” drawing away families.  Among other reasons, the size of families also plays a role in this.

“Families now tend to have less children; you don’t see a lot of families with five and six kids anymore,” Ray said.

In addition to the almost $1,000,000 increase in state subsidy that Biddeford will receive in the upcoming year, there are some major changes being proposed in this year’s budget.  LePage has proposed reducing the number of superintendents across the state by combining districts into a regional model.

“I don’t know that there would be a huge impact on my job by more students,” said Ray.

One of the focuses of the education funding is on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM programs.  Over recent years STEM programs have been put into place, with a new program having been started in the middle school and is slowly working its way into the high school.  An increase in available programs for STEM means additional funds will be needed.  The state budget proposal recognizes and accounts for this.  

“I think having some money to funnel directly into that field would be important,” Ray said.  “Looking at the work that we’ve done here with our middle school STEM Academy and how that transitions into high school is a great model.”

Another major change that has been proposed is a statewide teacher contract that would make the state legislature the bargaining agent for teacher salaries and benefits.  While Ray says this is something that should be watched, others such as former Legislative aid in the Senate Republican Office Jen Burke have little faith that this portion of the proposal will come to pass.

“That’s a very anti-teachers union move,” said Burke.  “The [Maine] House [of Representatives] is controlled by the Democrats.  They’ll [Republicans] never get that through.”

Although there are some drawbacks to this proposal, overall, it will benefit Biddeford in the long run.

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The student news site of Biddeford High School in Biddeford, Maine
Increased state funding means great things for Biddeford schools