The Westbrook School Finance Committee has cut about $200,000 from its proposed budget by removing a proposed assistant principal position and updating the spending plan with insurance readjustments, but the City Council is urging more reductions.

Superintendent Peter Lancia and interim School Finance Director Brian Mazjanis presented an updated $44,255,658 budget to the council Monday that reflected insurance rates lowered from 10% to 8% and the elimination of the elementary assistant principal job.

The original budget was up 5.7% over this year’s budget, but the revised plan represents a 5.06% increase in spending. With the new figures, the school budget would add 67 cents to the property tax rate, according to the school department, bringing it from $17.83 to $18.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. For the owner of a $300,000 home, that would mean a $201 increase over this year’s tax bill, not including any potential increase caused by the city budget. The tax rate may change throughout the budget process.

Mayor Mike Foley previously said he hopes to cap the combined city and school budget at a 3% increase.

City Council members shared concerns over the increase.

Councilor Victor Chau asked the School Finance Committee to find ways to reduce staff, with Councilor Gary Rairdon suggesting cutting the proposed middle school STEM teacher’s position, in favor of students taking STEM classes elsewhere or focusing the schools’ efforts on other areas where it is struggling.


“We have neighboring schools that have specialized in (STEM),” Rairdon said. “I know some testing scores haven’t been so good, but we are adding another area that maybe we won’t be good on top of that.” 

“The numbers here do not reflect responsibility,” Rairdon said.

Foley said that based on the proposed school budget increase, he has halted work on the municipal budget to gauge how much of a tax increase city residents can handle and find ways to reduce the impact.

At the meeting when Foley asked what sort of city budget he should propose, councilors requested a “needs-based” budget, not shying away from an increase but keeping it to a minimum.

“I am worried about our taxpayers with inflation and gas,” Councilor David Morse said.

The municipal budget, combined with the school budget, will be presented April 25, with a first reading May 9 and a final reading slated for May 16.

While no municipal numbers will be released until the 25th, Foley said at the meeting he hopes the budget can address some needed roadwork, city employee raises and the need for more patrolmen.

“I sound like a broken record, but we have as many patrolmen on the streets as we did in the ’80s,” Foley said.

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