LEWISTON — The School Committee got good news Wednesday in a revised 2014-15 budget that has fewer cuts and a lower property tax increase.

The total budget is $61.3 million, up from $58.8 in 2013-14.

Proposed cuts total $429,000, compared to $1.9 million proposed in the March 4 spending package presented by Superintendent Bill Webster.

Six positions would be cut instead of 26. Those positions would not be layoffs because of retirements.

Also, high school sports would be cut 9 percent instead of 25 percent as first proposed.

“Nine percent is a lot, but we’re not going to lose any teams,” Athletic Director Jason Fuller said. “We’ll be able to rearrange things so everybody gets accommodated. We’ll have to change our spending habits and make do. We’ll lose the equipment account (uniforms and replacement equipment).”

Lewiston High School will lose one teacher instead of the two that were in the original budget proposal.

Nobody wants to lose one teacher, Principal Linda MacKenzie. “We have to make adjustments.”

Property taxes would still go up but not as much as forecast earlier. A home valued at $150,000 would see a tax increase of $72 for the year, compared to $126 in the earlier budget.

The big reasons for the lower cuts and lower tax increases are health insurance costs didn’t go up as much as expected and there is more money from the state.

Initially, health insurance costs were expected to increase by about 8 percent, but the final numbers put that at 2.5 percent.

Webster said he was confident Lewiston will receive more money from the state for out-of-district special education costs.

It’s not final, School Department Controller Elaine Runyon said, “but we’ve been in communication with the state. Lewiston is expected to get a $275,000 increase for out-of-district costs.”

When Webster proposed his budget March 4, he called it one of the worst he’s had to prepare.

Runyon said Webster “has done a super job addressing both concerns, reducing local tax requirements and reducing the cuts in a fairly even-handed manner.”

Even though the new numbers are good news, the district still struggles with larger class sizes, Runyon said. Many early grades have 25 to 28 students.

“We continue to struggle with providing all of the alternative pathways that would be best for many of our students. And we continue to invest in our teachers, not as much as we’d like to,” she said.

But administrators are very aware of the sacrifice being asked of taxpayers, she said. While the 2014-15 budget is 4.2 percent more than this fiscal year’s, household incomes aren’t going up that much, Runyon said.

“A lot of this is driven by the state subsidy going up. We’re fortunate in that respect,” she said.

The School Committee is scheduled to vote on the budget Monday. It will go to the City Council and finally to voters May 13.

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