April 20, 2018
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Brewer schools look to cut seven positions

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — With the opening this fall of the Brewer Community School — which will consolidate the city’s three elementary schools and Brewer Middle School — fewer people will be needed, Superintendent Daniel Lee said this week as he talked about next year’s budget.

“By putting our schools together we get economy of scale,” he said. “We were able to eliminate some positions.”

The preliminary 2011-12 school budget is $19,620,144, a $179,983, or 0.9 percent increase over this year’s budget, Lee said.

“We’re not done — $106,000 still has to come out,” he said.

Seven positions are currently on the chopping block.

“We are not laying off any teachers,” Lee said. “Right now we’re eliminating six ed tech and one maintenance worker.”

The proposed budget also adds three positions — a first-grade teacher, elementary librarian, and a facilities director’s position, he said. A new kindergarten through eighth-grade math curriculum, the first bond payment on the new high school roof, payments on a new plow truck and the cost of moving the central office from Capri Street School to the gym section of Brewer Middle School, also are included in the draft budget.

“We’re going to add two programs for autistic children at the elementary and middle school level,” Lee said. “We’re also going to be restoring cheering and ice hockey. If you recall, we defunded those last year.”

Parents and sports boosters have supported the two programs this year.

Residents will not feel the school budget increase at all, Lee said, noting that the school department is actually going to ask for $125,000 less from local taxpayers than it did this year.

That is possible because Brewer got nearly half a million dollars more in state funding; it held on to a pot of federal money it received last year; and it kept its fund balance at $1 million, Lee said.

“We knew this was coming,” he said.

Brewer’s state funding amount increased for 2011-12 by $443,000, to $9,588,817, he said. The school department also got $232,711 in federal EduJobs program funds that will be used for the 2011-12 budget.

“We had the option of spending that money last year,” the superintendent said. “We held onto it for this year because we knew the cliff was coming. So that helped.”

About a dozen people were at Monday’s school board meeting, which is where Lee made the draft budget presentation.

“This isn’t a bad budget,” he said. “It’s a work in progress.”

The school board will continue to work on trimming the budget and will present it to the City Council after that work is done, probably in April.

During the meeting, the board also:

  1. Heard that with all the snow days used this school year, that 2½ days have been added to the end of the school year. School is now scheduled to end June 15, and “that will be a half day,” the superintendent said. The school department also has to get a waiver for seniors who get out of school early and will not meet the number of required school days, he said.
  2. Established American Law and Trial as a new class at the high school.
  3. Changed its monthly meeting time to 6 p.m., an hour earlier.
  4. Heard that a curriculum audit of the school department has recently been completed. “This is a 200-page audit,” Lee said. “It’s a long list of recommendations to improve our school process. It’s really a critical look at our school department and how we can become a better school department.” A presentation about the audit is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at City Hall.

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