LEWISTON — More than 50 teaching and educational support positions in Lewiston schools may be cut as some officials embark on the most difficult budget process of their careers.

Jake Langlais. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

Concurrent reductions in funding from the state and federal governments paired with a significant rise in staffing costs has left Lewiston schools with a $7.8 million shortfall in the initial budget proposal, an increase Superintendent Jake Langlais knows residents cannot afford.

Unlike previous years where school officials trimmed the budget in small bursts spread over weeks, Langlais has taken a different approach this year due to the severity of the situation. Just two days after presenting his initial $105.7 million budget to school officials, Langlais offered them a hefty list of reductions identified by his administrative team totaling $3.4 million, which would nearly cut the shortfall in half.

Officials were visibly concerned by the list, which includes over a dozen classroom teachers, more than three dozen education technician and behavioral health professional positions, and an assistant principal.

“That hurts bad,” Langlais said. “Really, really bad. I don’t know what else we can do.”

While most of the positions are currently vacant, at least 15 to 20 are filled, Langlais said. He emphasized that due to vacancies and expected turnover in the district, it is more likely these people would be offered other open positions in the district rather than be laid off.


Asked whether he would consider the proposed reductions “significant,” Langlais said he felt the word was too light.

This is “us, scraping every single thing we can find” to lower the cost, Langlais said. There are no other lists of potential reductions coming, he added.

“Another list (of reductions) after this could be really damaging to our kids,” he said. “It’s not education at that point, it’s just patchwork.”

Langlais told the School Committee he has never encountered a more difficult budget in his time as a school administrator.

City Council representative Linda Scott, who has more than a decade of experience with the School Committee, later agreed.

If officials accept the proposed reductions as presented, the budget would drop to $102.3 million, a $3.5 million, or 3.5%, increase from the current $98.8 million spending plan.


Officials were expecting a difficult budget process. Some of the district’s federal pandemic relief funding is ending this year, forcing the district to make difficult decisions about the future of three dozen staff positions. Federal aid will completely end in 2024.

But officials didn’t expect to receive $1.3 million less from the state, due in part to a decline in enrollment.

In Langlais’ view, it doesn’t make sense to give districts with a large population of economically disadvantaged students, like Lewiston, less money than last year, he said.

Among the teaching positions slated to be cut are four math teachers, two elementary school teachers, two English language learning teachers, two resource room teachers in special education, one prekindergarten teacher, one world language teacher and one English language arts teacher.

These cuts would likely reduce the number and variety of advanced classes, additionally increasing class sizes, Langlais said.

During the meeting, Scott requested that building and program administrators begin attending the committee’s budget workshops to answer questions about proposed staffing and program cuts. She expressed specific concern for the district’s special education program, which alone is poised to lose 36 positions, nearly all which are vacant, according to Langlais.

The assistant principal position was especially difficult to recommend, he said.

Other proposed reductions relate to instructional equipment, facility improvement projects and The Store Next Door restructuring.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story