LEWISTON — The School Committee is recommending roughly a 10% increase in funding compared to last year to cover increases in several aspects of the budget, including staffing salaries and benefits.

School Department officials went into a work session with city councilors Tuesday night proposing a $111.19 million budget, which is about 10% higher than last year’s budget, according to school officials’ calculations.

The local contribution would be $33.84 million, including the adult education budget. It would bring the tax rate for education to $14.56 from the current $12.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The state subsidy is expected to be $72.67 million.

There are several cost areas of the budget that have increased, including staffing salaries and benefits, increases in Lewiston Regional Technical Center, new family leave law requirements, according to Superintendent Jake Langlais.

During budget planning last year, 61 staff positions were eliminated and there are several other staffing positions that are proposed to be cut this year, according to Langlais.

Though the School Department will not receive any more Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds next school year, school officials have been preparing for it by not filling positions supported by the funds as staff leave. It would avoid having to fold those costs into its regular budget, which would fall back on taxpayers.


Another factor placing stress on this year’s budget is payments to special purpose private schools, where students with severe cognitive, physical and/or other disabilities attend because city schools do not have educational programming sufficient enough to support them.

Not only have those rates gone up, but new legislation requires the city to pay the schools for all days, not just those the child attends, Langlais said. The school department pays nearly $15 million to send roughly 133 students to schools outside the district.

Langlais is proposing a three-year plan in which the district expands its special education program to bring most of those students back into city schools, reducing its overall costs on special purpose private schools, he said. Those costs have become too high for the school department to sustain funding long-term.

Councilors asked Langlais questions and discussed aspects of the budget but ultimately made few requests for changes to it at Tuesday’s workshop, ending the meeting with applause and gratitude toward school staff for their work.

The City Council will take a final vote on the budget April 30, sending it to a public vote May 7.

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