GORHAM — The School Board on Wednesday night approved an estimated $30.3 million budget for the coming year, which would raise taxes and eliminate about 10 positions as the school district responds to declining state aid.

The budget is 2.3 percent more than this year’s and would add 18 cents to Gorham’s property tax rate, which is now $15.90 per $1,000 valuation.

The 2010-11 municipal budget has not been finalized. As proposed, it would reduce taxes by one cent.

Superintendent Ted Sharp told board members that a reduction in positions could not be avoided. Positions for seven educational technicians, 1.6 teachers and two support staff members would be cut by the budget.

Sharp said in an interview Wednesday that the staffing reduction would not affect the current student-teacher ratios. “Given the financial pressures we are all facing, that is pretty remarkable,” he said.

The initial budget proposed to the board, on March 13, would have eliminated 30 positions. Sharp said at Wednesday’s meeting that the budget figures changed almost daily.

He said the addition of $755,079 in federal stimulus money helped reduce the impact on teaching jobs. School Board member James Hager asked Sharp whether that funding would change.

“It’s a tough question,” Sharp said. “I think it’s 99 percent set.”

At the start of the budget discussion, Sharp referred to the 51 positions the district has eliminated over the past three years. “It’s been an evolutionary change, as opposed to what many of my colleagues are going through.”

The board approved the budget on a 7-0 vote. One member, Kyle Currier, said it’s a fiscally responsible budget that provides the services Gorham needs for its students.

Another member, Katherine Garrard, said, “One thing about the time we are in is that it forces us to take a hard look at every single thing we do. It’s a good lesson. Misery loves company. We are not the only school district going through this.”

The board will have a workshop with the Town Council on May 18. The council will vote on the budget before it goes to voters in June.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]Sharp told board members that a reduction in positions could not be avoided. Positions for seven ed techs, 1.6 teachers and two support staff members would be cut by the budget.