AUBURN — Cuts in state education money this year could be significant, Auburn Superintendent Tom Morrill warned the Auburn School Committee on Wednesday.

Fewer people spending money during a tough economy means less revenue for Maine, Maine Education Commissioner Susan Gendron told superintendents Friday.

Because of that, the state could be facing $100 million in red ink this current school year, Morrill said.

Since 40 percent of the state budget goes directly to elementary, middle and high schools, the $100 million hole could mean $40 million less for Maine schools, Morrill said.

If that happened, Auburn could be facing about an $800,000 cut in state education money for the 2009-10 school year. That’s a big hit, considering Auburn’s total budget is about $34 million.

“This is of great concern,” Morrill said.

While everyone needs to be aware, “a lot could happen between now and then,” he said. “None of the numbers are final.”

State legislators met Wednesday to talk about the worrisome numbers, but decided to make no cuts until they receive updated tax numbers in November, Morrill said.

There will be cuts, but the size of the cuts isn’t known, said Business Manager Jude Cyr. Hopefully, sunny weather in August prodded tourists to spend money in Maine, which could improve the state’s financial picture, Cyr said.

Meanwhile, the Auburn School Department is being extra careful with money. “We’re reviewing every purchase order, and reviewing all our staff,” Morrill said.

– Bonnie Washuk


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