Gorham Police Chief Christopher Sanborn urges the School Committee to keep funding a school resource officer. The position was ultimately included in the school department’s FY23 budget. At left are School Committee members Sarah Perkins and Phil Gagnon. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The Gorham School Committee has approved a $48 million spending proposal that would raise the tax rate 9.5%.

The School Committee’s plan for fiscal year 2023 is $3.7 million higher than this year’s $44.2 million budget, but the cost of operating the schools just at the same level went up $1.3 million, according to Superintendent Heather Perry.

The budget raises the tax rate per $1,000 of real estate valuation to $13.82 from $12.63, a $1.19 increase. If the school budget passes, taxes on a home assessed at $300,000 would increase $357, from $3,789 to $4,146, to support Gorham education.

The School Committee approved the budget 5-2 April 13, with Darryl Wright and Phil Gagnon opposed.

Wright, a former School Committee chairperson, said it’s the first budget he hasn’t supported in his 11 years on the board.

“I’m uncomfortable with the size of this budget,” Gagnon said the evening before the board’s final review.


Committee member James Brockman, who voted for the budget, said the increase is significant but cutting anything from the proposal would be detrimental.

During a series of budget workshops, the committee conducted straw polls to amend Superintendent Heather Perry’s proposed $49.99 million budget. During the process, the board cut some positions, including a high school teaching position and one of the three school resource officers assigned to the district’s five schools.

But after hearing from Police Chief Christopher Sanborn and high school Principal Brian Jandreau, the committee re-instated those positions in its final review April 12.

Gagnon admonished the board for causing people to needlessly worry about their jobs.

“We put real people in harm’s way of losing employment,” Gagnon said. “Shame.”

The next step in the budget process will be a joint School Committee and Town Council workshop May 10.

The Town Council will then vote on the school budget June 7. The council can order the School Committee to reduce the budget, but it can’t tell the committee what to cut.

Gorham voters will have the final say in a school budget validation referendum June 14.

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