Budget Committee Approves School Budget

At its March 25 meeting, members of Sanford’s Budget Committee gave their stamp of approval to the School Department budget for 2021-2022. The budget will now go to the City Council before voters get the final say on June 8.

Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson was able to trim the Department’s original budget significantly from his original presentation, by using some money from the carryover, reducing expenses and utilizing some of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds. The final figure increases the Department’s bottom line by just 1.7% over the previous year’s budget.

Sanford Schools are expected to receive $8 million from the ARP, but the money must be used in specific ways related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The lion’s share will go toward increasing staffing and space so that all students will be able to be back in school five days a week in September, when physical distancing will likely still be required. Mr. Nelson said space at Willard School, which will be available once Pride Elementary is finished, may be put to use for that purpose.

$1.5 million of the ARP funds will be used for a summer school program to address the learning loss resulting from missed school time due to the pandemic.

Committee members felt it was necessary to wait until it is known what Sanford’s portion of state revenue sharing will be before voting on the municipal budget. The legislature is taking up the state budget this week. The final municipal budget is approved by the City Council, not the voters, so the timeline is a little more flexible.

The Budget Committee meeting originally scheduled for April 1 has been rescheduled to April 8, by which time it is hoped the state revenue sharing figures will be finalized.

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