Proposed Gorham school budget up 3.2 percent

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Gorham School Committee will study Superintendent Heather Perry’s proposed budget in a workshop on Saturday, March 2.

GORHAM —The superintendent’s proposed school spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 tops $40 million, an increase of more than $1.2 million from the present year.

Superintendent Heather Perry handed her budget to School Committee members last week. It calls for spending $40.2 million, up 3.22 percent from this year’s $38.9 million. Wages and benefits represent $31 million, the biggest slice of the pie.

“This is a starting point for the budget,” School Committee Chairman Darryl Wright said at the board’s meeting last week.

The proposed budget would raise the town’s tax rate by 88 cents per $1,000 of valuation. It means a take hike of $264 on a home with an assessed valuation of $300,000.

The estimated tax rate increase is based on a projected town total evaluation figure and an unknown amount of state subsidy. The budget reflects that the state’s $16.3 million subsidy this year would remain the same in the proposed budget but Perry said in her Feb. 13 letter to the School Committee that “it likely will not.”

The School Committee will study the 273-page budget book in a workshop on Saturday, March 2. The proposed budget can be found by visiting www.gorhamschools.org and clicking on About Us and then the School Committee, and School Budget Info.

Reductions listed in the budget would impact several ed techs and teaching positions along with a substance abuse counselor. It’s unclear whether reductions would hinge on attrition.

“It all depends upon the number of retirements we might get this year and/or other decisions made by support staff each spring.  The likelihood is high that we wouldn’t know the answer to that question until sometime in May,” Perry said Tuesday.

The seventh grade athletics program, under the proposed budget, would be cut, saving $25,000 but impacting about 200 students.

The School Committee will vote on a budget April 10. A joint workshop with the Town Council is set for May 14, with the Town Council vote expected on June 4. Town voters will decide whether to approve a school budget in a validation referendum June 11.

The proposed budget does not include any funds for a high school expansion/renovation project under review now. The cost of that project has not been announced yet.

“Our hope is within a month we will have the initial estimate,” Perry said Tuesday.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 780-9089 or email [email protected]