After voting to reduce the FY18 Gorham School Department budget request by $300,000, the Town Council approved taking a $37,375, 212 budget to the voters for validation on June 13. The impact of this budget on taxpayers was reduced from the original .85 mils to .65 mils.
The Town Council may not tell the School Committee specifically how to spend its funds, but Councilman Ronald Shepherd offered an amendment to the original request that would have reduced the budget by $930,000 and stipulated an expenditure of $630,000 allocated for capital improvements be approved jointly by the Town Council and the School Committee.
This amendment was defeated (5-1) and an amendment that limited the reduction to $300,000 passed unanimously. Although the request was not binding, the Council recommended that the reduction come from the School Department’s capital improvements budget.
The council also voted that in the event that the District receives more money from the state than anticipated (and included in the budget), these funds would be used to reduce property taxes.
Following the Town Council vote, the School Committee met. After much discussion, members voted unanimously to take the $300,000 from the Capital Improvement Plan (CIPS) lines. Because the committee felt a need to maintain an adequate budget for capital improvements, they were reluctant to make this reduction, but did not want the reduction to impact any student programs. As a result, the budget cuts will postpone some upgrades to plumbing fixtures, lighting and HVAC systems, as well as improvements such as painting and flooring in some district schools.
More details on the proposed budget are on the district’s website.