Proposed Westbrook school budget up 4.3 percent

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Superintendent of Schools Peter Lancia has presented a $36.7 million school budget for the 2017-18 school year.

WESTBROOK — The proposed $36.7 million fiscal year 2018 school budget is 4.3 percent higher than this year’s budget.

The proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year is expected to be adopted by the School Committee on April 12. The proposal is $1.5 million higher than the current budget of $35.2 million.

Superintendent of Schools Peter Lancia first presented the proposed budget to the School Committee on March 1. The committee has met three times since then to discuss each line item and is scheduled to meet next on Wednesday, March 29, for further review and discussion.

According to Lancia’s budget overview, there are three major issues driving the budget: student support services, innovative teaching and learning, and capital improvements.

For student support services, the budget proposes extending full-time positions to the part-time guidance counselors at the elementary schools, adding a social worker at the high school and adding an additional school nurse at the high school.

More extracurricular and in-school activities are proposed to keep students engaged, including expanding the school district’s music program.

Lancia’s presentation also notes that student conduct needs more attention and that additional behavioral management support is needed at the middle school.

In the area of innovative teaching and learning, Lancia proposes a multi-year STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) initiative. It would start next school year with the middle school, adding one STEAM teacher to start.

At the elementary school level, the budget includes funding to launch new writing units and to increase professional development for teaching elementary literacy.

The budget also proposes adding more study hall technicians and ESL (English as a second language) teachers and expanding resources for alternative education.

Capital improvements in the budget include replacing part of the roof at the Canal School, updating security equipment at the high school and the vocational center, and renovating bathrooms at the high school.

The School Committee is scheduled to hold the first reading of the budget and a public hearing on it at its April 5 meeting. The second reading and adoption is scheduled for April 12. 

Once approved by the School Committee, the budget will be sent to the City Council for approval. The final budget will then go to referendum on June 13 for voters to approve.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Superintendent of Schools Peter Lancia has presented a $36.7 million school budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

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