After Winthrop voters rejected an $11.36 million school spending proposal last month, the Town Council has approved another proposal that is 3 percent lower and that will go to a referendum vote on July 25.

Councilors proposed the new, $10.98 million spending plan in part because the Winthrop School District has kept its costs around that level this year.

The district imposed a spending freeze as the town has tried to recover from a $1.5 million shortfall that’s developed over the last two years, and town councilors would like the district to maintain those spending levels for at least a year.

Councilor Linda Caprara, a leading proponent of the cuts, said on Monday that she’s heard from many residents who would like the town to minimize the effect of future budgets on their tax bills.

But school officials have opposed some of those cuts, arguing they could lead to the deterioration of the school system and the education its students receive, and a number of residents also have defended the positions that could be cut or eliminated in the new proposal.

The new spending proposal heads to voters on July 25.

It marks a 2 percent reduction from the current year’s $11.2 million spending plan. It includes $315,581 for central office costs, which is $45,830 lower than the amount approved this year. That reduction could lead to the district’s superintendent having to work part time — a change the Town Council has advocated but school officials have opposed.

When that reduction came up on Monday night, just one councilor, Priscilla Jenkins, voted against it. The other councilors — Caprara, June Bubier, Barbara Buck, Linda MacDonald, Rita Moran and Chairwoman Sarah Fuller — voted for the central office reductions.

Based on the spending plan approved by the councilors this week, other positions that could be cut include a that of the curriculum director and a newly created health aide’s job — cuts that the School Board also has opposed.

Jenkins and Moran voted against those reductions Monday, but the rest of the councilors supported them.

If voters approve the budget later this month, it’s not clear whether the School Board, which controls how education funds are spent, would make the reductions that the Town Council is advocating or find savings elsewhere. It’s also not clear whether school officials will try to rally residents to vote against the proposal.

The previous, $11.36 million spending proposal was rejected in June in a 477-438 vote. Roughly 20 percent of registered voters turned out for the election.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Gary Rosenthal said the School Board will be meeting this week for an executive session to discuss employee contracts, and possibly to try to answer those other questions.

Rosenthal’s salary during the 2016-2017 shool year was $99,854. He agreed to forgo a raise as part of a spending proposal the School Board passed last week, but the Town Council agreed to strip an additional $155,000 from that proposal this week. On Monday night, Rosenthal and other education officials argued against any further reductions in his position.

In some ways, the latest spending debates are a continuation of those that have been happening for much of this year, after a $1.5 million shortfall was discovered in the school side of the town’s finances last summer.

School officials have argued that town employees should have recognized the discrepancy that led to the shortfall, while the Town Council has argued that Rosenthal and other school officials should have spotted it.

A recently discovered, albeit less costly, financial error led Peter Nielsen, the former town manager, to resign a year earlier than he’d planned.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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