Gorham school officials met Tuesday to discuss a new spending plan in the wake of last week’s defeat of a $51.5 million school budget at the polls. From left are Assistant Superintendent Brian Porter, Business Manager Hollis Cobb and school committee member Anne Schools. With backs to the camera are school committee members Jennifer Whitehead and James Brockman. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The Gorham School Committee, revamping the $51.5 million school budget voters rejected last week, is weighing cuts totaling $285,150.

Those cuts, along with increased revenue of $150,000, including $121,000 from a reserve fund, would result in a budget slightly more than $51.2 million that would ease the tax burden by $435,150, according to school officials. Specific tax details are not available at this stage in the process.

A revised budget will go to voters in another referendum July 25.

Reductions could include cutting the amount originally budgeted for energy costs by $60,000; reducing the supplies budget, $55,000; and eliminating a pre-K nurse position, $45,000. In addition, $30,000 would be cut from each of the previous budget’s allotments for high school science textbooks, legal fees, substitute teachers and a central office remodel to provide special education spaces.

Superintendent Heather Perry emphasized the the cuts under consideration could change.

The school committee will vote on a revised budget at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 28. The Town Council will decide July 11 whether to send the plan to voters two weeks later.


Gorham voters rejected the $51.5 million budget, which carried an 11% property tax increase June 13, 956-660. About 10.4% of the town’s 15,623 registered voters cast ballots in the referendum.

School committee member Jennifer Whitehead said Tuesday she received numerous calls from people apologizing for not voting.

The failure at the polls marked the town’s first budget upheaval in about three decades and comes on the heels of a town-wide property reassessment last year that resulted in higher taxes for many.

The school committee initially proposed a $52.2 million budget but the Town Council ordered it be reduced by $800,000. The School Committee then cut a planned $450,000 HVAC project at Narragansett Elementary School, a $275,000 flooring upgrade at Village Elementary School and the purchase of a $65,000 truck, according to information provided by Perry.

Town Councilor Seven Siegel said Tuesday that Gorham needs more commercial property and greater residential density “to balance out our tax base and reduce the burden on individual residences.”

“My opinion is that this is what happens with decades of only building single-family homes on large lots. The way Gorham has grown is unsustainable, and we are feeling the impacts today of old zoning,” Siegel told the American Journal in an email.


He said he has concerns about cutting the school budget too much.

“My worry is that if they try to produce a leaner budget, we will lose extracurriculars that really enrich the school experience for young people. Residents are often saying that Gorham has an amazing school system, but if we continue to underfund it, it will not be able to stay the amazing place that it has been for so long,” Siegel said.

Perry cited state statute as regulating how her department would function until a new budget is passed. The department will operate using the rejected budget until a new budget is approved.

“As we go through the time that may be required, we will continually operate off of the last ‘legislatively approved’ budget, which is whatever budget is approved by the Town Council in preparation for the referendum vote,” she said.

If voters again reject the budget at the July referendum, that budget will be used until they approve a new one, she said.

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