Winthrop voters will have their say about a $11.78 million school spending proposal when they head to the polls for primary elections next week, after the Town Council voted 4-2 to approve that amount following almost two hours of debate on Monday night.

The proposal includes $100,000 in new funding for two health workers at Winthrop High School and Middle School, as well as a $30,000 increase in funding to the Winthrop-Monmouth adult education program, which has been in danger of closing.

The spending proposal is up 6 percent from this year’s $11.1 million budget. Town Council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller and Councilor Priscilla Jenkins both spoke in support of the School Committee’s original proposal, with Jenkins arguing for the public health benefits of hiring the new health workers to assist the district’s nurse.

“I know the middle school has had multiple emergency calls,” she said. “We seriously need those health aids.”

Supporters also argued that the impact on local taxes will be lessened by a roughly $400,854 increase in state funding the district is slated to receive next year. That means local taxes would only go up about $229,000 to cover the proposed hike in the school budget.

The budget proposal will go to voters on June 12, when the polls will open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Winthrop Town Office.

The budget passed despite the vocal opposition of Linda Caprara, vice chairwoman of the Town Council, who argued that the $11.76 million school budget originally submitted by the Winthrop School Committee would be too expensive for local taxpayers and proposed removing about $229,000 from it. That amount is the same as the proposed increase to local taxes next year.

“That’s a huge increase,” Caprara said. “I, as a taxpayer in this town, do not agree with that. Just because we get more money from the state, we say, ‘Oh we’re going to go above and beyond and spend more’? No.”

But Caprara’s motion failed after other councilors opposed it and members of the School Committee described what would be funded under the steeper proposal.

The school budget proposal includes about $455,700 in new funding for uncontrollable spending increases, to cover things such as health insurance and fuel costs, and $35,410 in negotiated severance payments for Superintendent Gary Rosenthal, who is resigning at the end of this month.

It also includes about $28,200 for maintenance and safety upgrades at all three of the district’s schools and $7,000 in new funding to transport students who are considered homeless and are legally allowed to continue attending the district even though they may now live outside it.

In response to Caprara, Jenkins said the increase to the town’s tax rate “will not hurt us.”

Fuller noted the increase in state revenue reflects an increased need for funding in the local schools. She also suggested that reductions could be discussed if taxpayers reject the budget proposal on election day.

The final budget proposal was approved by Fuller, Jenkins and two other council members, Rita Moran and Scott Eldridge. It was opposed by Caprara and Councilor Andy Wess. Councilor Barbara Buck did not attend the meeting.

Last year, the Town Council and School Committee clashed after the first budget proposal was rejected once at the polls, then the second proposal was reduced after a surprising, last minute proposal from Caprara.

Despite other recent disagreements between town and school officials, School Committee members have said they were making a concerted effort to offer a budget proposal that councilors could support.

Given the proposed changes in town, school and county spending, Winthrop taxpayers could expect their property tax rate to rise by an estimated 7.93 percent next year, according to a public notice that was printed ahead of Monday night’s meeting. That means the owner of a $100,000 property would have to pay $1,850 in property taxes, up $137 from last year.

Councilors also ended up raising the amount of proposed funding to the Winthrop-Monmouth adult education program from $35,000 to $55,000. Staff of that program had been asking for about $65,000, but some members of the council opposed that large of an amount.

The staff have said that because of past spending decisions, the $35,000 funding level would gut the program and force it to stop offering its high school diploma program, among other changes. They have asked for more funding so they can hire a full time director who can focus on expanding the programming and bringing in more outside revenue.

“To me, it’s common sense and business sense,” said Moran, who supported the additional funding. “It’s an investment in a welfare to work program. These are people becoming employed.”

Before discussing the school budget, the six council members unanimously approved a $7.46 million town budget, which is up 7 percent from this year and includes an additional $350,000 for road repaving next year.

On Monday, Town Manager Ryan Frost said that public works staff plan to use the approved funds to repave about a third of Memorial Drive, which follows a long section of Maranacook Lake. They’ll also use the funds to repave a couple smaller roads that have deteriorated over the years, including Hathaway Road, Partridge Run Drive, Belz Road, Nottingham Road and Sherwood Forest Drive, according to Frost.

At the council meeting on Monday, a couple residents expressed frustration that even more care won’t be devoted to Memorial Drive in the coming year. The town is currently doing an engineering study of that road and estimates its extensive repairs will cost more than $500,000.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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