WINTHROP — The Winthrop School Board voted 3-2 on Wednesday night to approve the proposed $13.7 million budget for 2024-25 after two board members said they needed more information before they could confidently vote in favor of the spending plan.

Before the vote, board member Ivy Corliss said she had additional questions and requested a line-by-line breakdown of the transportation department’s portion of the proposed budget for the Winthrop Public Schools.

Winthrop Superintendent Jim Hodgkin Submitted photo

Corliss and Vice Chair Monika McLaughlin voted against the budget after Superintendent Jim Hodgkin could not answer their questions and explained that the business manager has the information they sought, but is on vacation until the middle of May.

Hodgkin said the board has had plenty of opportunities to ask questions, including a budget workshop the board canceled in March. Corliss said workshop was canceled because Hodgkin could not attend. 

“I thought we were having another discussion (Wednesday night), when it was put on the agenda for a discussion,” Corliss said. “I guess I misunderstood that. I don’t think there is sense in having a workshop when (Hodgkin) can’t be there. I don’t think it makes sense to have a workshop when the person who knows all the numbers can’t be there.”


Corliss said she wanted a breakdown of the positions and spending in the transportation department. She said the numbers from the department were not available to the board until recently, and when the board got the numbers, they did not include a spending breakdown. 

McLaughlin said she was confused about the district’s bus situation. Specifically, she asked why officials had asked the town for additional money to buy three diesel-powered buses after the four state-funded Lion Electric Co. electric school buses were deemed unfit to drive in February. School officials said the Maine Department of Education will pay the district back for the diesel buses in the upcoming fiscal year. 

Hodgkin said the School Board should have all the information it needed, including a 20-page handout he gave the board in February that breaks down district spending.

Hodgkin advised the board not to delay the vote on the proposed budget because it would also delay the town’s budget process.

Board Chair Alicia Lawson considered delaying the vote so the information could be gathered. When she asked what Corliss and McLaughlin needed for information to be secure in their vote, they said they needed additional time, and questions might have to be asked in executive session for personnel reasons. Lawson then decided to move the vote forward.

The budget season was difficult for nearly all schools, with the expiration of COVID-19 funding, contract negotiations and inflation. In Winthrop, several positions were cut to reduce the proposed budget increase from 15% to 6.22%. 

“I think the administrative team would agree that this (budget) reflects what we can reasonably do,” Hodgkin said. “It went from 15% to 6.22%, and the council was supportive when I met with them.” 

Hodgkin is expected to present the budget to the Town Council in mid-May, and a public vote on the spending plan is scheduled for June 11.

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