Westbrook Superintendent Peter Lancia, second from left, discusses last week his proposed $51.9 million school budget. Pictured, from left, are Assistant Superintendent Kim O’Donnell, Lancia, School Finance Committee members Noreen Poitras and Jeremy McGowan. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The proposed Westbrook school budget is $51.9 million, up from $47.8 million last year, representing a $4.1 million or 8.9% increase.

Superintendent Peter Lancia delivered the budget to the schools’ Finance Committee last week and and the committee has since held three workshops to scrutinize it.

The portion of the city’s tax rate to pay for education would rise from $10.91 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation last year, but school department Finance Director Brian Mazjanis said Tuesday the tax impact had not yet been determined.

“To determine the effect on tax rate, we need to know our revenue, city property valuation and how much of the FY24 general fund carry-forward balance the board will decide to use to reduce the impact of our budget on taxes. Currently, I don’t have accurate values for all three of these variables so I can’t give you an accurate impact on the tax rate,” Mazjanis said.

Taxes on a home assessed at $400,000 last year were $4,364 to pay for local education.

Mazjanis said the Finance Committee will meet again Wednesday on the budget. The School Committee will hold a preliminary vote on March 27 with a final vote scheduled for April 3. The school budget then will require City Council approval before it is sent to voters in June.


“It really is an exceedingly thorough and transparent process,” Mazjanis said.

Lancia said the school budgets “are always created because of our people.”

“That’s the heart of Westbrook schools – our students, staff and places that we learn,” he said at the March 6 committee meeting.

The expected state subsidy for Westbrook schools is $19.57 million, down $11,081 from $19.59 million.

Factors driving the budget increase include “several reserve accounts that have been established for contract negotiations and experience increases, costs of health insurance, the new Maine Family Leave, capital improvement, technology repair, new positions in targeted instructional programs, and additional tuition in out-of-district special purpose programs,” according to a letter to the School Committee from Lancia, Mazjanis and Assistant Superintendent Kim O’Donnell.

The increases include reserving $2.2 million to cover teacher and staff contract renewals in June; $609,406 for insurance benefit increases; $788,686 for out-of-district tuition costs for 27 students requiring special programs; $80,000 in possible laptop repairs; $234,000 to cover any unexpected capital repairs; $420,000 for new positions to help keep students on track; and $134,951, to cover Maine paid family leave.


Lancia said 26% of the schools’ enrollment have disabilities; 22% are multilingual learners; and a number of the students are transient, moving from district to district.

“We still have children struggling with the effects of the pandemic,” he said.

The district’s academic achievement has increased but is still below average on state assessments in reading and math, and Westbrook students show gaps in learning, according to the budget information.

Wages of teachers in Westbrook are below the Cumberland County average, he said. Beginning teachers with no experience earn $43,000 in Westbrook while the county average for new teachers is $46,000. The Westbrook district has 509 employees.

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