WINTHROP — The school department is looking to add to its administrative ranks, driving a 3.85% increase in its proposed spending plan for next fiscal year.

The school department is proposing to spend $12,236,090.50 in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, an increase of $453,740.14 — or 3.85% — from the current year’s approved spending plan of $11,782,350.36. The bulk of the spending increases would support increased administrative positions and funding for the school nutrition program.

“You need, in my opinion, an increased adult presence in the schools,” interim Superintendent Cornelia Brown told the council during a budget workshop last week.

“We’ve had a number of issues at the high school,” she said, citing a threat made on social media at the start of the school year as an example.

At Winthrop Grade School, there are 18 doorways with 38 doors.

“There are a lot of ways into that school,” Brown said.

So what would an “increased adult presence” look like? Changing the grade school assistant principal and middle school principal jobs to full-time positions and adjusting the duties of the dean of students — who now serves the middle and high schools — to work only at the high school.

Changing the dean of students role to only high school would support the building’s other administrators, Brown said.

“It would give the principal more of an opportunity to support teachers and the classrooms,” she said.

Eventually, she hopes hopes that Winthrop will hire a school resource officer, Brown said, “but I don’t think you’re there yet.”

In addition, the school department is proposing the addition of a director of teaching and learning, at a cost of $108,532, which includes salary and benefits; of that, $78,352 would be paid for from local funds, while $30,000 would be covered by federal funds. The person filling that job would guide teachers and administrators in developing and implementing curriculum and instructional programs. According to a job description for the position, the director also would serve as a federal grant coordinator, coordinate the implementation of the Teacher Professional Development Plan and work collaboratively with administrators to develop a data-driven instructional program.

Brown told councilors that Winthrop is a high performing district, saying that “people move here to be part of this school system.” In order to maintain that edge, she wants to put a higher priority on the curriculum and instruction.

“This is an area that’s been neglected,” Brown said, adding that it’s not something she can take on in addition to her superintendent responsibilities — and that it’s not her area of expertise. “You need a director of teaching and learning.”

Another spending increase, $128,000, would be for the school nutrition program, which Brown said was underfunded. Participation has decreased and, of those students getting food at school, fewer qualify for federal reimbursement for free and reduced meals.

The spending on the Winthrop-Monmouth Adult & Community Education program will remain the same as the previous year at $55,000.

It’s too soon to say yet how the increase will affect the town’s tax rate because the school and municipal spending plans have not been approved, and the county tax rate has not been finalized. Winthrop’s current tax rate is $18.31 per $1,000 of assessed property. Taxes on a $150,000 home, for example, are $2,746.50 before any exemptions.


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