LEWISTON — The School Committee reversed course at Monday’s special meeting and approved using about $1 million more from the fund balance to further offset the proposed school budget, along with a few more cuts. The vote was 5-3.

After several teachers and staff gave impassioned speeches against the laundry list of potential staffing cuts compiled by Superintendent Jake Langlais, many of them filled positions, committee members decided to use $1.1 million more from the fund balance and make minor cuts elsewhere.

Langlais went into the roughly two-hour meeting, which started at 7:30 p.m., stating his apprehension and concern about further budget cuts despite being the one proposing the cuts, which he discussed with school leaders since last week’s meeting.

“This isn’t anyone saying what they were willing to be without because nothing is easy,” he said. “This is ugly work, all of it is hard — every bit of it.”

Those cuts included several staffing positions in all schools and in all departments. Staffing cuts to libraries was a particularly hard hit area. His list proposed cutting four library educational technician positions at four schools.

Of his initial proposed cuts, committee members agreed to make further cuts in supplies, nutrition, transportation, other vacant or new staffing positions, library books and periodicals, and one response to intervention position at Robert V. Connors Elementary School. The latter position aims to identify struggling students early on and give them the support needed to thrive in school.


Those cuts, along with using $1.1 million from fund balance, amount to just over $1.7 million in addition to previously approved cuts.

After the public rejected the first proposed budget of $111.47 million, committee members cut an additional $1.2 million, making cuts to budget items and using more from fund balance.

Between the last round of adjustments and proposed adjustments approved Monday, it reduces the first proposed budget by about $3.4 million, according to Langlais.

The current proposed school budget uses roughly $5 million from the fund balance to offset taxes. That, along with the proposal at Monday’s meeting would be over $6 million used from fund balance. It would leave just under $5 million in the fund balance going into the new school year.

At-large committee member Megan Parks and Ashley Medina of Ward 5, Meghan Hird of Ward 6, Donna Gallant of Ward 7 and City Councilor Scott Harriman voted in favor of using additional fund balance.

Janet Beaudoin of Ward 2, Phoenix McLaughlin of Ward 1 and Craig Charpentier of Ward 4 voted against the motion.


Elizabeth Eames of Ward 3 abstained because she joined the meeting late.

McLaughlin thought leaving too little in the fund balance would make it difficult to pay for incidental costs in the future, but Parks was less concerned about that, saying that the school department operated on a roughly $2 million fund balance for many years before the pandemic with little issues, and it is only fair to give those funds back to taxpayers now.

At last week’s special meeting Hird and Medina were not in favor of using more money from the fund balance but were swayed Monday by educators who spoke at the meeting.

Wearing Red for Education shirts, several teachers and staff spoke against the proposed cuts. With such deep cuts to staff, as proposed at the meeting, they felt it would be detrimental to students’ quality of education and staff’s ability to educate students.

“The proposed cuts take more services from the students and places more burden on the teachers,” middle school math teacher Andrew Cote said. “I, as well as so many teachers in this district, work so hard every day to make sure that our kids get the best education possible, and I will always do that.

“But the reality is teachers can’t pour from an empty cup,” he said. “If teachers get less support then students are going to get less support as well.”


Almost all of them spoke about how much they and others have benefited from teaching coaches, positions that were on the chopping block at last week’s meeting. Some called for them to use more fund balance money to offset taxes.

During the meeting, Beaudoin again called for city councilors to reconsider further reducing the municipal budget, which has been approved and is not subject to a public vote.

The municipal budget is more than the public’s share of the proposed school budget. Of the roughly $110 million proposed budget, the taxpayers’ portion of the school budget would be just under $30.6 million. The city’s approved budget for the upcoming fiscal year is just under $38.5 million.

Mayor Carl Sheline said he has no interest in reopening the city budget.

“I understand the difficult situation before the School Committee and appreciate the hard work that has been done thus far on the budget,” he said in an email Tuesday. “With the resulting reduction to the overall tax rate generated by this work, I am hopeful that city voters will pass the school budget on July 9.”

The City Council will meet Tuesday night for a workshop to consider the budget adjustments.

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