LEWISTON — The proposed school budget is designed to secure success for students, teachers and the community by removing barriers, Superintendent Todd Finn said Monday night.

Finn is asking for a $2.06 million increase in fiscal year 2021 to work toward meeting the School Committee’s goals of improved instruction, accountability, an equitable and informed community and stewardship of public resources.

The $91.04 million spending plan also includes $2.88 million in contracted salary increases and other mandates. The fiscal year 2020 budget is $86.1 million.

“Goals drive this budget,” Finn said, adding that every budget item would be linked to a goal.

“This is not a wish list, this is not Christmas,” he said. “I aim to neutralize the barriers to student success. Every Lewiston learner deserves a world-class education.”

He presented the budget to the School Committee as a strategic plan for improving instruction, providing teachers with meaningful professional development and addressing the equity and opportunity gaps among students.

These goals would address the barriers to success, he said.

His presentation began with pictures of smiling students in classrooms.

“As we dive deep into the data, don’t forget these faces,” he said.

The data paint a picture of a struggling school system:

  • 64.4% of students are economically disadvantaged.
  • 1,106 of the district’s 5,211 students receive special education.
  • 1,457 students are in the English Language Learners program.
  • The average student-teacher ratio in ELL classes is 34-to-1.
  • The graduation rate in 2019 was 73 percent.
  • Only two schools met the state standards on the Maine Education Assessment last year.

“Is this the best we can do?” Finn asked. “I say no.”

Budget increases include $1.03 million to improve special education services, $225,500 for after-school and summer school programs, and $50,000 for artisan teacher training, among other things.

The spending plan also would move the salaries of two assistant principals from the ELL program to the general fund. That would provide an additional $169,800 for the English Language Learners program.


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