The Gorham School Committee last week unanimously approved a $52.3 million budget for the upcoming school year, up $5.8 million or 12.6% from this year’s budget of $46.4 million.

The spending plan hikes up the portion of the town property tax rate to support the school district slightly more than 19.5% from $8.06 to $9.64, representing an increase of $1.58 per thousand dollars of valuation. It means annual taxes for schools on a home assessed at $400,000 would rise $632 from $3,224 to $3,856.

Gorham’s proposed town budget would add another $$1,320 per year on the tax bill for the owner of a $400,000 home.

No one opposed the school budget during the public comment segment of the April 12 meeting.

School committee Chairperson Darryl Wright said there isn’t a “want” in the new budget and there hasn’t been for years. He said the budget represents what is needed.

“Our goal and whole role is to prepare students to be successful in life,” Wright said.


The budget includes $1.6 million for a new pre-kindergarten program and $1 million in capital improvements, Superintendent Heather Perry said Wednesday.

The state’s general purpose aid to Gorham schools is expected to increase $945,077 from $20.1 million to $21.1 million, a 4.7 % increase. That funding includes a windfall of $685,312 due to a state funding allocation error announced in late March.

Expenses, however, are up. School committee member Nicole Hudson said utility costs, including for electricity, are rising $343,000, salary increases add up to $2.1 million, and costs to maintain existing programs total about $900,000. Perry said previously that the school department’s health insurance was expected to go up $631,828.

The school committee cut about $2.1 million from Perry’s initial $54.4 million proposal, including a $1.3 million reduction in capital improvement projects and $5,000 from athletics, according to member James Brockman.

“Every item in this budget has justification,” Brockman said. “This is the budget our students need.”

School committee member Sarah Perkins said the role of the committee is to recommend a budget that best meets the “needs of students” while the Town Council’s role is to pass a budget in the best interests of the community.


The council will discuss the budget with the school committee at a workshop at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, at the municipal center. Wright urged residents to reach out to town councilors with their opinions on the school budget.

The superintendent will meet with residents to discuss the budget at 6 p.m. May 3, at Baxter Memorial Library.

Town councilors could reduce the school budget but can’t dictate what to cut. Last year, the council required a $1.5 million reduction.

The Town Council will hear public comment and vote on town and school budgets on May 16, one day after taxes are due. Town voters will have their say in a school budget validation referendum June 13.

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