WINTHROP — Buildings, building wings, and just about everything else is on the table as the Winthrop Board of Education continues to work to trim some $1 million from the budget proposed for the upcoming year.

So far, the board has looked at such ideas as closing Winthrop Middle School, closing off the second floor of Winthrop Grade School, moving eighth graders to Winthrop High School.

Each of those scenarios carries its own problems and costs, and the board is set to do more work on the budget at 6 p.m. today in the All-Purpose Room at the Town Office.

Along with trying to cut the budget, the Winthrop schools also have shrinking population.

Enrollment figures show 411 students in grades preK-5 at the grade school; 204 students in grades 6-8 at the middle school, and 233 students in grades 9-12 at the high school.

Closing or moth-balling the middle school would save some $200,000 but send insurance premiums skyrocketing, said Superintendent Briane Coulthard.

“We needed some big figures cause we were talking a million-plus budget reduction.” That scenario also affects the school meal program, which is largely run from the middle school kitchen.

He said Dick Guerette of Winthrop Fuel suggested closing off the second floor of the grade school — a less energy efficient part of the building. Coulthard said 10 classrooms there are used by fourth and fifth graders.

That would save an estimated $31,000 to $40,000 a year, Coulthard said, adding that the whole elementary school could be run on the main floor.

“We’re looking at various options to save money and reduce the amount of building space we occupy,” said John Mitchell, chairman of the Winthrop Board of Education. “What we’re going to do is look at what’s going to be best for the students and look at how we save money.”

He said the board is still collecting information from the public and school administrators.

Mitchell said the middle school in particular is the most energy efficient school building in the town.

“We do have to invest some money in it for a furnace, but right now the furnace is working,” he said.

Last week, the board voted to notify six staffers, including the maintenance and transportation director and secretary, that their jobs would be terminated June 30 along with the funding for the Fun After School program.

The budget has to be in place by May 1, Coulthard said, because it is scheduled to go to Town Council May 3.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]


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