LISBON — City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday night to approve the $19 million school budget proposed by Lisbon school officials.
“Everyone has done a great job this budget season,” Councilor Raymond Robishaw said, thanking school officials for their efforts.
The proposed budget represents a 5% increase over the current spending plan and 70% of the increase is due to rising payroll and benefits costs, according to Superintendent Richard Green.
Under the proposal, the local share will increase by $317,218, or 4.2%, but the estimated tax rate increase is not yet available.
The budget includes an additional third-grade teacher, a fifth-grade teacher, a middle school literacy specialist, a high school math teacher, and a third pre-kindergarten teacher.
Residents will have the final say on the budget in a referendum on June 14.
In other news, the council voted 8-0 to allow Acting Police Chief/City Manager Ryan McGee to apply for a federal grant program to help fund a second school resource officer.
The community-oriented policing grant would cover 75% of the new officer’s salary, up to a maximum of $41,667 per year, for three years. The city should assume full responsibility for paying the officer’s salary and benefits beginning in year four.
“Protecting students and staff from threats of violence is a critical component of an SRO’s role,” McGee said. “Having a sworn law enforcement officer available at school decreases critical response time when a violent incident or other emergency occurs.”
McGee told counselors that a sense of security is linked to academic outcomes for students, including increased engagement, better academic achievement and lower absenteeism rates. Educators who feel safe are more likely to stay in their jobs and are better equipped to teach and support students, he added.
If the grant is approved, McGee said he hopes to fill the position with a current Lisbon police officer and then hire a new patrol officer. The department has 14 officers with one vacant position.
The earliest the officer could start would be fall 2023.
The second resource officer would report to the police department and would also be involved in community policing programs outside of school hours and during school vacations.
Previously, the city had two resource officers covering three schools, McGee said. The city has a resource officer covering four schools.
“An SRO covering a school district of our size and population is simply not conducive to maximizing our potential,” he said.
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