Brunswick School Board members this week agreed to not consider teacher layoffs as the board weighs budget cuts before presenting its fiscal plan to the Town Council.

The proposed $54.1 million budget, up $4.7 million from the current fiscal year, would raise property taxes by about 10% if left unchanged. The board wants to reduce the projected tax impact, and Superintendent Phil Potenziano on Wednesday presented a series of cost-cutting proposals, including one calling for the layoffs of five teachers and a guidance counselor at Brunswick High School to save $624,000. A group of more than a dozen students, parents and teachers spoke against that approach.

“Prioritizing students means prioritizing teachers,” said Brian Pressley, a Brunswick High School science teacher and president of the Brunswick Education Association. “Without them, we cannot thrive. Losing teachers … will hurt us.”

Fiona Edmonds, a senior at the high school, added, “Teachers at Brunswick High are some of the most qualified and respectful people. … This is not fair to their students.”

School board members agreed, with some saying the layoffs are “off the table.”

Instead, the board eyed reducing other items, such as computer purchases, leaving open positions vacant, and cutting school supplies and new equipment allocations to shave several hundred thousand dollars and reduce the tax impact to around 7.5%.


“I would choose teacher salaries over computers,” said board Vice Chairperson Sarah Singer.

Other cost-saving proposals from Potenziano included cutting educational technicians from the library and eliminating first-team sports at the high school, but those were also met with opposition from the board.

The main drivers of the increased budget are higher staff salaries from union labor contracts, rising utility costs, bus fuel and an influx of children from about 100 asylum-seeking families expected to move into new housing at Brunswick Landing this summer. In response, the facilities budget was left essentially unchanged, but Potenziano said that isn’t sustainable.

“We can’t continue to flat-fund,” he said. “We have significant needs in the facilities area.”

Board member Elizabeth Sokoloff called the budget “high and overwhelming,” adding it’s part of a “new normal” for the district.

Potenziano said he will present a new cost-cutting plan at the board’s next meeting Wednesday, March 22. The board will then present the budget to the Town Council on April 13.

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