WINTHROP — Voters approved a $10.98 million school spending plan on Tuesday, after rejecting an earlier proposal that was $200,000 higher in June.

While the spending plan includes several cuts to the Winthrop School Department’s administration, school officials plan to ask the Town Council next week to offset some of those cuts with state funds.

Several voters interviewed on Tuesday expressed misgivings about the spending cuts, but by 8 p.m. residents had approved the second budget in a 465-210 vote.

In interviews Tuesday afternoon, some voters said they agreed with the proposed cuts to the administration of the School Department.

Others disagreed with those cuts, with one man saying they had motivated him to vote against the proposal, and a couple residents saying they reluctantly voted for the budget so that the School Department can start preparing for the year ahead.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, the Town Council and the School Board supported the spending proposal for different reasons. Councilors passed the proposal because they think the town needs to contain its costs for the next couple years, and that the School Department can reduce the superintendent’s hours and other administrative costs, if only for the short term.


School Board members didn’t agree with the reductions, but urged voters to approve the budget because additional state funding could be used to offset some of them.

The new proposal marks a 2 percent reduction from the current year’s $11.2 million spending plan and would preserve many of the schools’ existing programs.

On top of the $10.98 million in the plan, the proposal includes $120,000 for adult education and school nutrition, bringing total spending to $11.1 million. Town and school officials voted on the funding for adult education and school nutrition as separate articles from the main school budget. According to the town website, the new budget will raise the town’s tax rate from $1,584 per $100,000 of valuation to $1,706 per $100,000.

Outside the Town Office on Tuesday, two voters, Paula and Billy Cummins, said they supported the $10.98 million budget after voting against the first proposal in June.

The Cummins, who are both in their late 40s and have had children and grandchildren in the school system, said they didn’t support a raise for the school superintendent, Gary Rosenthal, that was included in an earlier spending proposal and were happy to see the reductions to administrative costs. They also resented an earlier proposal by the School Board that would have ended some arts, sports and extracurricular programs.

“We have to make cuts,” Paula Cummins said. “The kids need to come first.”


The previous $11.19 million spending proposal was rejected in June in a 477-438 vote. Roughly 20 percent of registered voters turned out for that election.

But another voter, John “Jack” McGovern, 62, says he voted against the $10.98 million spending proposal on Tuesday because it was too low.

“I voted no reluctantly,” said McGovern, whose son is a student in Winthrop. “I think our kids deserve better.”

McGovern is concerned about the effects the reductions could have on “vulnerable” students in the district, he said. At the same time, he has also been frustrated with school officials, including Rosenthal, and remains confused about the causes of a $1.5 million deficit in the town’s budget that has led to months of wrangling and acrimony over school spending.

Councilors have made their spending proposals based on this year’s operating expenses of the School Department. School officials managed to save more than $300,000, after that $1.5 million shortfall was discovered in the school side of the budget last fall. Now councilors think the School Department should maintain those savings in the coming year as the town starts to recover from the shortfall.

But town and school officials have disagreed about which side was responsible for the shortfall — which stemmed from an error two years ago in which the amount of revenue from the state was counted incorrectly — and the School Department has argued that too much austerity could affect the quality of the school system.


Next week, Rosenthal plans to ask the Town Council if $100,000 of the $277,000 in school funding that Winthrop is expected to receive from the state can be used to restore the potential reductions in his position and create a school health aide position. The rest of that revenue should go to shoring up the town’s tax base, Rosenthal said last week.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: