A lengthy, detailed Gorham School Department budget explanation in a workshop Tuesday seemed to pacify the Town Council that last year cut school spending by $2.2 million.

The council will conduct a public hearing and vote May 14 on a municipal budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The action will include the $53.5 million school spending plan, up $3.5 million from the current $50 million that took three council votes and referendums to pass last year.

School Committee member Stewart McCallister called this week’s workshop meeting “productive” and School Department Business Manager Hollis Cobb said after the meeting she feels like “people want to collaborate.”

Tuesday’s workshop did not include a public comment segment and Town Councilor Phil Gagnon did not attend the meeting.

Town Council Vice Chair Lee Pratt, after the meeting, said that the council’s view “could change, obviously.”

The School Committee’s proposed budget raises the portion of the town’s tax rate to pay for education from $8.79 per thousand dollars of property valuation to $9.59, up 9.05%, representing an 80 cent increase.


The budget revenue includes $600,000 from an accumulation of unspent money over the years called a fund balance. Superintendent Heather Perry built the $600,000 into the budget to ease the impact on local taxpayers. The fund balance came under discussion at the meeting. It’s unknown whether the Town Council would add more fund balance money to the budget to further reduce the tax impact.

“The council could add money or subtract money,” Perry said after the meeting.

A school budget approved by the Town Council will go to the town’s voters in a validation referendum on June 11.

The School Department also plans to ask voters in November to borrow up to $16 million for capital improvements. A Town Council approval also will be required to send that request to a referendum.

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