Westbrook Superintendent Peter Lancia’s proposed $47.7 million budget for the next school year would raise the portion of property taxes to support education in the city 16.4%, far exceeding the mayor’s goal of an overall tax increase of no more than 3%.

The proposed budget, up $4.2 million from this year’s $43.5 million budget, accounts for rising expenses and includes new teaching and ed tech positions and the replacement of sixth graders’ laptops, Lancia said.

The proposed budget would raise the schools’ portion of the property tax rate by 16.4%, Mayor Michael Foley told the American Journal last week. Under the proposal, the schools’ portion would rise $1.66 per $1,000 of assessed value from $10.09 to $11.75.

The tax bill for an owner of a home valued at $400,000 in Westbrook would increase $664 from $4,036 now to $4,700. That estimate would not include any increases that may result from the city side of the budget.

“As mayor, I have established a goal to have regular, incremental increases around 3%, which has been possible in the last three years,” Foley said. “Our goal will be to release the combined municipal and school budget in late April.”

Costs driving up the school budget include $15 million in contractual increases for salaries and benefits, a 4.6% hike, and an expected $1.2 million, or 10%, increase in the cost of health insurance to about $11 million.


New positions add up to $690,000. Lancia is requesting funding for two additional special education teachers and four
educational technicians; two additional multilingual education technicians; and an additional art teacher at Westbrook High School. The budget also calls for adding one employee in human resources to work with the one staffer for the district, which has 503 employees.

At the middle school, laptops for Grade 6 students need replacing through a lease-purchase agreement.

On top of rising expenses, the state’s education subsidy to Westbrook dropped about $1.1 million to $16.2 million. School department Finance Director Brian Mazjanis attributed the reduction to the state’s rising valuation of properties in Westbrook.

Mazjanis said the school department is also preparing for federal pandemic funding to dry up. He said Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund 1 expired last September with phase 2 set to expire this September and phase 3 in September next year.

The budget proposal is now under review by the Westbrook School Committee’s Finance Committee, and will go to the full School Committee for a vote next month. It will then go to the City Council for approval, but city voters would have final say in a validation referendum on June 13.

“This is a very thorough process in which every school department expense is vetted publicly,” Mazjanis said.

Lancia said the earliest need-based budget requested by department heads and cost centers came in at nearly $50 million but was reduced by $2.2 million.

The budget presentation can be viewed at facebook.com/westbrookschools.org.

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