LEWISTON — The School Committee has cut nearly $2 million from Superintendent Jake Langlais’ initial budget, however school officials and city councilors seemed to agree the number will need to be reduced further.

The budget stands at roughly $99 million, $6.2 million more than the current spending plan.

“I want to commend the School Committee too, because those $2 million worth of cuts were not easy to make decisions on,” Langlais said. “I don’t want to speak for them, but I think it’s been a pretty clear, consistent message that we still have more work to do.”

He previously told the School Committee that his initial proposal was deliberately too high and items would need to be removed.

A list of items cut from the initial budget proposal, totaling nearly $2 million. School Committee budget slideshow

City councilors asked several questions of the committee, however some commented they hadn’t yet had a chance to thoroughly review the proposal, having only received it Friday.

“(Numbers) are high, no question about it,” Ward 4 City Councilor Rick LaChapelle said.


This year’s budget is particularly difficult, Langlais said. Salary and benefit step increases account for $7.4 million alone, more than the proposed spending increase.

“We’ve already reduced beyond the things that we have before us as far as programs go,” Langlais said.

Over a third of the $2 million reductions were identified in the district’s special education program.

“We’re making concerted efforts to improve special education,” Langlais said. “For some time, at least from my own perspective (as a principal and superintendent), we’ve had some serious deficiencies in special education.”

Thirty-five positions, mostly vacant ed techs positions, have been cut from the program.

An audit by American Education Consultants in 2020 found that the district was hiring more educational technicians than necessary.


Additionally, Langlais said the district can increase its revenue by billing for MaineCare reimbursements.

“What we’ve found is we are not billing for services that we are eligible to bill for (full or partial) reimbursement,” Langlais said. “The reason we’re not doing that is we don’t have the capacity.”

By hiring additional staff to file the reimbursement requests, Langlais estimates the district could receive at least $400,000 more, possibly up to $600,000.

The district is also aiming to reduce the number of students sent outside the district for education. On average, the district pays $50,000 for each student to attend an outplacement program.

School officials expect to educate 40 of the district’s 116 current outplacement students in Lewiston schools next year, saving money. In order to support these students, the district will need to hire new special education staff, Langlais said.

Special education summer school will be paid for using federal relief money this year, but the item has been added back to the budget proposal.

General education summer school is not included in the proposal.

“People are coming to Lewiston Public Schools, we’re starting to see them apply here from elsewhere, we’re hiring those folks, it is a shift in how things have gone many years prior,” Langlais said. “I feel good about the value added in this budget, while also finding areas to reduce.”

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