OXFORD — Superintendent Mark Eastman told the Oxford Hills School District Board of Directors on Tuesday night that “very difficult and unpopular” measures will be taken to address a projected $4 million loss in state aid over the next two fiscal years.

They include cutting staff, and possibly sharing a principal at the high school and vocational school, and sharing principals among elementary schools.

The district is expecting a $2.1 million loss in state revenues in fiscal year 2010-2011, which begins July 1, and another $2 million in fiscal year 2011-2012.

“This is real. This is significant. This is something that’s going to effect everyone and it’s unprecedented,” said Eastman.

  Saying he has never been in a situation like this in his 25 years as a top administrator in several schools systems, including the last 15 at Oxford Hills, Eastman said he has never seen revenue losses that even came close to what is happening across the state now.

In an attempt to save the one town/one school philosophy at the elementary grade level, Eastman said the schools could be restructured and combined into clusters where each town could maintain its own school but there would be a reduction in principals.

The idea, that is still being developed, would mean schools such as Rowe Elementary in Norway, Waterford and Otisfield elementary schools could, for example, be clustered together under one principal.

The move would only be part of the overall strategy to address the revenue deficit. Minimum class sizes would also be established and any class that does not meet the class size would be eliminated.

In addition to the long-term moves, short-term adjustments, such as cuts in all areas would be implemented.

Because 83 percent of the budget is human resources, it is clear that reducing staff through attrition is not going to be feasible,  Eastman said. Cuts are going to have to be made in staff.

“The whole thing is so staggering it’s hard to get a handle on it,” Eastman told directors.

He said the budget will continue to be refined and more specifics will be spelled out in the coming weeks.

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