Brewer’s special education funds cut

Posted Aug. 03, 2009, at 10:47 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — The Maine Department of Education wants the city to repay more than $100,000 in unused out of district education funds, Superintendent Daniel Lee told the school board.

Lee immediately sent an e-mail to Suzan Beaudoin, DOE school finance supervisor, after receiving the July 1 letter that states the fiscal year 2010 special education allocation for Brewer would be adjusted downward by $101,168.

\“I asked her how could this happen,” he told the Brewer School Committee on Monday. “They wrote back and explained to me that in the past two years, they have included an out-of-district [education] estimate embedded in our special education allocation.

“We had no idea,” Lee said.

The amount the state paid to Brewer was based on how much the department has paid for out-of-district education for its students in recent years, he said. That amount has reduced significantly in the last year or so, he said, causing the state’s overpayment.

“Our prize for not spending our money was them taking it away from us,” Lee said. “We’ll pay it back because we didn’t know.”

To reduce the impact of the adjustment on taxpayers, the state is allowing Brewer to breakup the repayment over three years, which will result in an approximately $33,000 annual decrease to the special education amount, Lee said.

“It would have been hard to take a $100,000 hit,” he said.

The one thing that upset Lee the most about the news was the July 1 notification date, he said.

“I can understand the reasoning, I just wish they had told me before I had a budget done,” Lee said. “I just thought they were getting a little slow on the gun.”

During the meeting, the school board also:

ä Discussed a letter from Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, asking Brewer school leaders to consider issuing seasonal flu shots to all students this fall that would be paid for with federal stimulus funds. The school board did not vote officially on the measure, but verbally supported it and told the superintendent to continue to research the issue. An Aug. 15 meeting is planned in Augusta to discuss the program.

— Heard that PLATO, a computer program that allows students to work independently to make up classes they have failed, helped 19 students earn credits, including two who would not have graduated without it. “Both are on their way to college,” said Becky Bubar, Brewer High School principal.

— Held the first reading of a new policy to require photo identification of all school employees and visitors.

— Changed the date of the September meeting to Sept. 14.

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