Next year’s proposed school budget will go to the School Committee in early April with a proposed 5 percent increase.

The school’s Finance Committee completed work on the approximately $27 million budget last week. The current school budget is approximately $25.5 million.

School Superintendent Stan Sawyer cautioned that the figures are only preliminary. The School Department won’t know exactly how much money it will be receiving from the state until the Legislature passes the budget. The Department of Education informed Westbrook earlier this year that it would receive an estimated $2.2 million in additional state aid.

Superintendent Stan Sawyer said, thanks to the additional money coming through the state’s new Essential Programs and Services funding formula, the School Department will be providing some tax relief in the budget, even though the total budget will be increasing.

“It appears we will have a reduction on the school side, but I don’t know how much,” Sawyer said.

The School Committee’s Finance Committee has been going over the school budget for the past several weeks. Sawyer said the Finance Committee has completed its review of the proposed budget and has referred it to the full School Committee for final review.

While the Finance Committee does not have the authority to make any cuts or adjustments to the school budget, Sawyer said the committee has compiled a list of approximately $690,000 of cuts and adjustments for the School Committee to review during its deliberations.

Sawyer said approximately $900,000 of the increase in the budget is due to contractual increases in salaries and benefits for school staff. In addition, Sawyer said the proposed budget would also include additional debt service from the Congin School project.

Sawyer said he expected to ask for approximately $400,000 less from local taxpayers in the upcoming budget, about 3 percent less than the current appropriation. “We will have a tax cut,” Sawyer said.

The School Committee will be taking up the 2005-2006 school budget at its next regularly scheduled meeting on April 13 at 7 p.m. in room 114 of Westbrook High School. While he did not have an exact timetable as to when the committee would be finished deliberating the budget, Sawyer said he hoped to have a final budget to present to the City Council by the end of April.

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