WINTHROP — Residents of Winthrop are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the public schools’ proposed $12.03 million budget for 2021-22, a decrease of $5,119 from current spending.

Despite $296,094 less from the state and a$30,000 reduction in MaineCare reimbursement, the school committee reduced an initial draft from a $500,000 increase to the proposed decrease.

“Since that initial ‘request’ budget, everyone has worked to review the request, set priorities and make sure all of the request are accurate,” Superintendent Jim Hodgkin wrote in the budget proposal. “Cuts have been made, and the budget now stands at a decrease of $5,119 or -.04% over last year.”

Regular instruction is set at $4,585,205, a $101,128 increase, or 2.26%, to current spending.

In the budget document provided by the school committee, regular instruction includes teacher and education technician salaries, insurance-related costs and school supplies associated with regular classrooms.

The increase is also fueled by teachers’ salaries having to meet a state minimum of $37,500 for next year. Winthrop’s base salary was $35,000, but had some positions that paid less than $34,500, according to officials.

“No teaching positions have been cut at this point,” Hodgkin said.

Special education is set at $2,114,950, a reduction of $47,598, or 2.2%, from current spending.

“For the second year in the row, we have cut three special education technicians,” Hodgkin wrote in the report. “Two of those positions have been unfilled this year and the third has been vacant for part of the year.”

The number of special education students in Winthrop falls below the state average by 17%, with 91 students in the school requiring special services, according to the report. The 91 students make up 11% of those in the public school system.

Other instruction has been budgeted for an increase of $22,884, or 5.58%, bringing it to $413,939.

The other instruction section of the budget is for the extracurricular activities and costs related to athletics. The budget document shows the increase is due primarily to transportation costs and an increase in coaching stipends.

Student and staff support has been budgeted for a $371 decrease from its current $1.08 million.

“With the investments that were made with COVID-19 funding, the need to support these purchases is important,” Hodgkin wrote. “Futuristic visioning does not appear to have been done in this area, and need to project replacement of equipment and the funding necessary to do that is reflected in this budget.”

System administration for the central office staff is budgeted for a decrease of $6,358. The total proposed amount for next year is $438,844, with the proposed budget showing reductions in the business manager’s proposed salary and other areas, based on spending trends from the past three years.

School administration spending, however, is budgeted to increase by $31,870, or 4.08%, bringing the total proposed amount for next year to $813,044. The increase reflects an 8% increase for insurance. This spending category includes principals, assistant principals and other administrative staff members.

The proposed cost for transportation has been decreased by $125,385, bringing the total to $577,485 for next year .

“This is due to the decision to sell the bus fleet,” Hodgkin said. “I am greatly concerned this will become a huge increase in a couple of years, when the savings from the sale are finalized.”

The proposed cost for facilities is budgeted to increase $41,087, or 3.18%, because it has been “underfunded for some time” and to set aside money as the Winthrop school buildings get older and need repairs, according to Hodgkin.

He also attributed the proposed increase to a “significant” increase in fuel, electricity and other fixed costs.

Other articles on the budget referendum involve adult education and school nutrition.

Hodgkin said the school nutrition budget presented challenges during the budgeting process because it was funded with federal funds for the current school year. The budgeted amount is $547,328, or $13,444 less than current sending.

For adult education, the proposed budget is $94,627, or $4,286 less than current spending. Hodgkin said the program last year lost $5,000 in state subsidies, so the increase is $713.

Voting is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Winthrop Town Office, 17 Highland Ave.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. 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.