Westbrook Superintendent Peter Lancia’s proposed 2022-2023 school budget is up 5.7%, or $2.4 million, over this year’s and would increase property tax bills by about 4.9%.

The proposal exceeds the maximum 3% increase that Mayor Mike Foley told the American Journal he’d like to see in both the new school and city budgets.

While still early in the budget process and subject to change, Lancia’s $44.3 million plan adds 15 positions, ranging from English Language Learner staff to administration employees and librarians.

The new staff is needed, he said, “because the complexity of needs is changing” in Westbrook’s schools.

The proposed budget would add 87 cents to the property tax rate, bringing it $18.70 per $1,000 of assessed value.  The new tax bill for the owner of a $300,000 home would be $5,610, or $261 more than this year’s, excluding any possible increases as a result of the new city and county budgets.

While costs of each proposed position have not been shared, Lancia said the new positions and salary increases, budgeted at 10%, make up for the majority of the increase.



Five of the new positions in the proposal are for ELL and special needs. While the total student population is 2,385, down about 100 students since 2017, the number of ELL and special needs students has increased by 4% since then, according to Lancia’s data.

“We need people in those positions, people to engage them and move forward,” Lancia said. “A lot of the positions we were looking at fill some targeted needs.”

Other new positions include a kindergarten teacher, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) teacher at the middle school; assistant principals at Saccarappa, Congin and Canal schools; three elementary library teachers; a social worker and a school department accountant.

The budget also includes the addition of an elementary school math program meant to address falling math scores and increased funding for classroom supplies, music and visual arts programs and substitute teachers. In addition, the cost of employee benefits has gone up 10%, according to the budget proposal.

No capital spending projects are included. The school department is working with the city on larger projects, including finding a new location for COMPASS, an at-risk student program now being held at the Community Center following the closure of its classroom due to code violations.


City Council Finance Committee Chairperson Gary Rairdon said the proposed increase in the school budget is nearly double what it should be in terms of affordability for residents, who are still weathering the economic impacts of the pandemic. He pointed out that it doesn’t “take into consideration the city budget and what that increase could be.”

Any increase in the city budget for the next fiscal year, which is still being developed, could also increase the property tax rate.

“There should be no more than a 3% increase,” Rairdon said.  “The school has 15 new positions. English as a second language is an area that they need support in. I can see that, but there are a few other administrative (positions) that could possibly be a little top-heavy.” 

“I do have confidence that the school committee will see the realization of the impact on the taxpayers and come to a mutual ground,” Rairdon said.

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