LEWISTON — School officials are facing difficult decisions about the future of 37 positions paid with federal pandemic relief money, which will expire next year.

Officials will be able to use federal funds for one more school year before they will be forced to either cut or move these positions into the local budget, most of which are academic support staff added after the pandemic.

The list includes academic interventionists, reading recovery teachers, social and emotional learning supports, floating school nurses and school counselors. The Lewiston Middle School dean of students and one classroom teacher at Connors Elementary School are also paid with federal money.

The district received funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to support 40 positions this year. However, two positions are vacant and one, an education technician for The Store Next Door, was moved to the local budget earlier this year. The other 37 positions are filled.

“I would anticipate that through the budget process (this year), the committee may want to find some reductions or move some things to find money elsewhere,” Superintendent Jake Langlais said. “One thing I know we will not be able to do is take 37 positions and put them in the budget a year from now.”

City Council representative Linda Scott requested school staff provide an assessment on the viability and value of each position to help officials decide which positions have best improved education outcomes for students.

“I think it’s really important that we get some real statistics to help us figure out where we’re going to go with all of this,” she said.

Langlais said administrators are analyzing school vacancies in the local budget to determine which positions the school can live without. Funding from these staff cuts could be put toward keeping some of the now-federally funded roles, he said.

The School Committee will begin discussing the superintendent’s budget proposal for the upcoming school year Monday at 5:30 p.m. at The Green Ladle, 156 East Ave.

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