On Tuesday, June 10, the citizens of Westbrook will vote on the school budget. You will be asked to vote yes or no on the overall school budget. If the voters vote yes, the budget, which has been approved by both the Westbrook School Committee and Westbrook City Council, will be adopted for the 2014-2015 school year. This budget reflects no additional increase to the local taxpayer.

If the voters vote no, the Westbrook School Committee and the Westbrook City Council will have to submit a revised budget to the voters until a 2014-2015 budget is finally adopted. Any subsequent referendum, if necessary, will be a local expense and not reimbursed by the Maine Department of Education.

As superintendent of schools, I am charged with the financial responsibility to supervise the preparation and presentation of the annual budget to the School Committee. Please know this budget is fiscally responsible and reflective of the resources we seek from the citizens of Westbrook to support our school system. With regard to programming, personnel, and resources, this budget adequately supports the educational needs of our students, while balanced with no increase to local taxes. As you consider this information, please know we have scrutinized every line item, reviewed all programs and personnel resources.

In considering this budget, please know the state does not fully fund public education. More specifically, since the Essential Programs and Services funding model is intended as a minimum amount that schools should be spending to provide a basic education, there are many essential parts of school budgets that are not funded or are funded at less than the actual cost to provide the program or service. For instance, the state’s funding model has not been able to provide full funding for special education and English Language Learner programs in Westbrook. In addition, the state’s funding model does not fully fund the cost of transportation, activities and athletics, energy and maintenance of facilities.

The Westbrook School Department is committed to a first-class educational program and providing our students the resources necessary to reach their fullest potential. The proposed 2014-2015 school budget maintains all existing programming to include: art, music, gifted and talented, vocational, honors/advanced placement, credit recovery, alternative learning, adult and community education, Title I, pre-k, nursing, guidance, co-curricular and athletics. With voter approval, this budget will fund these and other established instructional programs, while the school department continues to look for ways to “do more with less.”

I encourage you to get as much information as possible on this budget and vote on June 10, from 7 a.m.-8 p.m., at your designated municipal polling station. Additionally, please know you can vote in advance of this date (by absentee ballot) at Westbrook City Hall, 2 York St.

Your continued support is essential to maintaining the quality of our school system and is deeply appreciated. Please contact me personally with any questions, concerns, and/or ideas at [email protected] or at the Westbrook Superintendent of Schools Office, 854-0800.

Marc Edward Gousse is superintendent of schools in Westbrook.

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