WESTBROOK – The Westbrook School Department learned this week it will receive nearly $600,000 in federal stimulus money, allowing the department to save 17 jobs that had been targeted for elimination.

Interim Superintendent Marc Gousse recommended using the money to retain positions including four elementary school teachers, four middle school teachers and a math and science teacher at the high school.

There are still 47 full- and part-time school employees who stand to lose their jobs, Gousse said Thursday.

Gousse presented his proposed $31 million budget for 2011-2012 to the School Committee on Wednesday. The committee is scheduled take an initial vote on the budget next Wednesday and a final vote on April 27.

The proposed budget would add 47 cents to the tax rate, an increase of 2.7 percent. That translates to an additional $89 in property taxes for the owner of a $190,000 home, according to Dawn Ouellette, chief financial officer for the city and school department.

Ouellette said the school department applied for the federal job stimulus funds in November, but hadn’t been notified whether it would receive the money.

Gousse, who took over as superintendent last month, said he’s been asking the state’s Department of Education for an answer and received a letter Tuesday confirming that the district was awarded $588,443 from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Education Jobs Fund Program.

Gousse, who has been the Westbrook High School principal for the past 10 years, became interim superintendent after Reza Namin resigned to take a job in Massachusetts.

Before resigning, Namin presented a $33.7 million budget to the School Committee’s Finance Committee with a list of $3.2 million in proposed cuts. Namin said the list was compiled by administrators.

After two public hearings in recent weeks, the Finance Committee recommended making the majority of cuts from that list, but decided to continue funding middle school and freshman athletic programs, guidance counselors and nurses that were poised for elimination.

Following the School Committee’s final vote, the City Council will have to approve the budget before it’s voted on by residents at a referendum on June 14.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at

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