LEWISTON — The School Committee on Monday will take a pared-down budget with no “additional local” increase to the City Council.

The committee, meeting remotely Friday, agreed to reduce the superintendent’s initial proposal of $91.04 million by $1.42 million, the amount to be picked up by local taxpayers.

“In light of the current COVID-19 situation and the potential impact this may have on our great city, we are recommending that we work to reduce the (Lewiston Public Schools) budget,” Superintendent Todd Finn wrote in a memo to the committee.

Most committee members said they supported or were “comfortable” with the cuts.

But member Kiernan Majerus-Collins said he believed cutting the superintendent’s budget was irresponsible.

“I don’t think we should cut services to students in any way,” he said.

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Chairwoman Monique Roy said, “We are not cutting; we’re just not adding.”

Member Megan Parks said she was concerned about the removal of two new school buses, estimated to cost a total of $160,000, from the budget.

“I want to make sure the Connors (Elementary School) kids have options for busing,” Parks said.

The new elementary school serves children from the inner city.

“I just want to point out the fact that it’s kids in an area where parents are less likely to speak out about kids not getting home until 4:30,” Parks said. “That doesn’t make it less important.

Chief Administrative Officer Bobbi Avery said the issue would “be on our radar all year. If we can’t do without the additional funding, I will go to the superintendent and he will bring it back to you.”

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Avery’s work to cut costs and retain services was praised by the committee.

Their goals will be met by the budget, Finn said.

“It still addresses high-quality professional development, the equity-in-opportunity gap and social-emotional learning,” he said. “If you look at what we could do without more tax money, that’s borderline genius.”

A budget must be approved by the City Council and local voters.

The numbers:

  • The draft budget now stands at $89.6 million.
  • The overall increase is $3.5 million, down from $4.9 million.
  • Debt service and state-mandated minimum local share is $340,478.
  • Contracted salary and benefit increases are $3 million.
  • $3.8 million would be taken from surplus to balance the budget.

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