WESTBROOK – Linda Allen, the nurse at Westbrook Middle School, said she has treated 16 concussions and 20 seizures since the start of this school year.

She said she monitors some students constantly because of their chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart problems and Crohn’s disease.

Among the 53 positions that stand to be cut from Westbrook’s school budget for next year are three nurses. If that happens, some schools won’t have a nurse full-time.

“I wouldn’t feel safe at school without a nurse,” said Kallie Cyr, a fifth-grader at Congin School.

“Please, please find other ways to save money without cutting teachers, nurses and our school staff,” she said Wednesday night, talking to members of the School Committee’s Finance Committee.

Kallie and Allen were among more than 30 people who spoke at the first public hearing on Westbrook’s school budget for the year that starts July 1.

Several pleaded for the school board members to preserve the nursing positions. Others talked about the importance of physical education, art, foreign languages, classroom size and guidance counseling, all of which would suffer under the cuts.

About 200 people attended the hearing at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center. Some who spoke said they expected a larger crowd, considering the extent of the cuts that are proposed.

“This is shocking,” said Anne Bureau, the mother of a third-grader, of the list of proposed cuts. If more people had seen the list, she said, she’s sure they would have come to the hearing.

Alex Stone, chairman of the Finance Committee, shared that sentiment and decided to continue the meeting April 6 at the Performing Arts Center. That’s when the committee will recommend to the school board what should be cut.

The school board is expected to adopt the budget on April 27. Pending City Council approval, residents will vote on that budget June 7.

Reza Namin prepared the district’s $33.7 million budget before resigning as superintendent in early March to take a job in Massachusetts. He proposed the list of cuts, totaling $3.2 million, to help close a $3.7 million shortfall.

The list includes 22 full-time teachers and all middle school and freshman sports teams.

Westbrook High School Principal Marc Gousse, who was named interim superintendent, said School Committee members don’t have to stick to that list when they decide what to cut.

“The entire budget is wide open,” he said Wednesday.

Stone said the $33.7 million budget would cause a 10 percent property tax increase, raising the property tax bill for a $200,000 home by $373.

No one spoke Wednesday about not wanting to raise taxes. Several speakers said they would willingly pay more to preserve the targeted positions and programs.

Travis Jalbert, who doesn’t live in Westbrook, was one of them.

Jalbert is a middle school health teacher and the varsity ice hockey coach at the high school. Both positions are proposed for elimination.

“I’m not here to vouch for my position,” he said.

Jalbert encouraged the people at the hearing to tell other residents about the potential cuts.

“This is nuts,” he said. “Every position on this list is important.”

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]