BREWER, Maine — The Brewer School Committee passed a budget last week that amounts to a 1.1 percent increase over last year’s budget, though it will not require raising taxes for residents, school officials said.
The $20.5 million school budget reflects an increase in costs, which is offset by an increase in state funding.
“Our impact on the taxpayers, that’s a really positive step,” said Brewer School Department Superintendent Jay McIntire last week.
Despite the slight growth over last year, McIntire was not able to add certain positions and technological improvements to the schools that he had hoped to add, in part because of an increase in health insurance, retirement and utility costs.
“There’s always pain when you can’t grow as much as you might like to,” school board member Kevin Forrest said.
McIntyre said a world language position at the Brewer Community School will be left unfilled and he will not be able to hire personnel for a new response to intervention program that would help struggling students. The school department will also have to put off purchasing software to support standards-based instruction, a system of education that puts an emphasis on getting students to meet state standards, which all Maine high schools must fully implement by the 2017-2018 school year.
“They were all things that we had in there to move us incrementally to the next level,” McIntire said, referring to the items he hoped to include in next year’s budget, but could not. “They weren’t things about status quo. I think we’re able to maintain status quo.”
Other positions have been added to Brewer’s schools. The Brewer Community School will now have a full-time health teacher and a physical education teacher and a forestry class have been added at Brewer High School.
School officials said they were able to pass a budget that does not require an increase in taxes because the state subsidy increased by $209,713 between fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Neighboring communities, including Bangor, have seen a decrease in the state funding and have struggled to pass a budget that does not require a significant increase in taxes as a result.
Brewer’s City Council will hold a public hearing to discuss both the city and school budgets on May 20. The City Council will vote on the budgets on June 3 and residents will have the opportunity to vote June 10.