The Westbrook School Committee has approved a budget for 2007 that is just around the 4 percent increase over last year’s budget requested by Mayor Bruce Chuluda.

“It’s a good budget. I think it takes care of the needs we have and is still under Bruce Chuluda’s 4 percent,” said Assistant Superintendent Jan Breton. “We’re pleased with it.”

“Knowing all of the needs out there, it speaks well for the administration and staff here in Westbrook,” said School Business Manager Michael Kucsma. “Being realistic and balancing the needs of the schools and the needs of the people of Westbrook who have to pay taxes.”

Kucsma said the limit on budget increases requested by Chuluda changed the way the school department developed the budget. With limited money, it forced them to choose what was most important and to debate why certain aspects of the budget were more important than others. He said it led to more philosophical debate about the various aspects of the services the school system provides.

The school committee met on April 12 to vote on the proposed budget for next year. Just prior to that meeting, however, school department officials received word that oil prices would be higher than what they estimated because of rising fuel costs.

To account for the higher oil prices, the school committee added around $40,000 more to the budget, while at the same time staying under the 4 percent increase. The budget for 2007 as approved by the school committee is $28.1 million.

The school budget now goes to the City Council for approval. The council will be meeting with members of the school budget in the coming weeks as it debates both the municipal and school budgets.

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