WINTHROP — Superintendent Jim Hodgkin suggested in February that his role as head of the Winthrop Public Schools be reduced to part time as a way to save money.

Winthrop Superintendent Jim Hodgkin

Instead, the Winthrop school board reduced what began as a 15% budget increase to the now-proposed 6.22% increase, and opted not to scale back Hodgkin’s hours — although two positions at Winthrop Elementary School were cut, along with $500,000 from the facilities budget.

“I think they just didn’t see it was going to be of value,” Hodgkin said of his proposal that the superintendent’s role be reduced to three days a week.

The board is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to send the proposed $13.7 million budget to the Town Council. Ultimately, the budget is to be put before voters in June.

Schools across central Maine have had a difficult budget season in what officials say is a “perfect storm” created by the expiration of COVID-19 funding, teacher and staff negotiations and inflation.

Hodgkin called this year’s budget process challenging, but said he prepared the town ahead of time for the increases he expected in the proposed budget.


The proposed budget’s affect on Winthrop’s taxpayers remains unknown because it is calculated after the town has passed its municipal budget. Last year, with the overall budget increasing 1%, the portion paid by the town went up 4%.

The school district is expected to request about $8.2 million this year from the town, up from $7.5 million last year.

“It was a challenging budget,” Hodgkin said, “but when it comes down to it, there weren’t many moving parts. Just a lot of expensive parts.”

The main costs driving up the budget are salary and insurance increases, which make up about 80% of the school budget.

The proposed budget is increasing in part due to ongoing contract negotiations that are expected to make Winthrop’s teacher pay more competitive and raise the minimum salary to more than the $40,000 required by the state, which is expected to increase over the next couple of years. There was also an 11.5% increase to health insurance costs that was originally projected at 10%.

Contract information is confidential until negotiations are completed.  


The district has to pay $30,000 in mandated costs for the new Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Program, a price dependent on the number of school staff members.

It was not all cuts this budget season. The board added a middle school social studies teacher, a science teacher and district health teacher.

The board also decided to keep a COVID-era funded technology education technician, who helps with tech-related issues on a daily basis.

“We looked at the history of staffing at the Winthrop Middle School and we were down a third of staffing, and that’s made it difficult to run the middle school how we want,” Hodgkin said. “People want test scores to get better. In order to do that, we have to have staff.”

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