The budget season has begun grimly for the Five Town Community School District, which faces $1.3 million less in funding from the Maine Department of Education, an amount that is more than half of what the state contributes to operate Camden Hills Regional High School.

On Wednesday, March 3 at 5 p.m., the finance subcommittee of the Five Town CSD School Board will convene in the chorus room at the high school to begin plowing through a proposed 2010-2011 budget that, as of early February, totaled $11.5 million. A full school board meeting is scheduled to follow at 7 p.m.

That initial budget was presented to the finance committee at its Feb. 3 meeting, drawing a roomful of concerned citizens and students curious about budget deliberations during a recession that has diminished revenue streams and prompted strong local scrutiny of anticipated expenditures to educate approximately 658 students.

At the Wednesday, March 3 meeting, administrators are expected to provide proposed tiered budget cuts.

The requested budget delivered by the high school administrators to the budget committee on Feb. 3 hovered at $11.5 million, down $116,469 from 2009-2010. With the anticipated slash in state funding, however, and the financial penalties imposed by the state on the five towns of Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport, the anticipated increase of funding burden to taxpayers is $1.34 million.

The initial budget proposes no salary increases for administrators, although it does allow for anticipated health insurance increases of 8 to 10 percent.

The finance committee expects to schedule Saturday work sessions to address the budget line by line. The full school board must have a budget ready for the public by mid-April, with a budget meeting scheduled for June 1 and a referendum scheduled for June 8.

The school board also anticipates much public interest in the shaping of the 2010-2011 budget and invites participation either at the meetings or via e-mail comments to csdpass@fivetowns.net.