BREWER- The irony was strong Wednesday night at the Brewer City Council meeting, as councilors honored the women’s swim team…the same swim team on the list of potential cuts.
“The plan is for everyone in the room to hear the needs of the Brewer School Department,” said Cheri Towle, superintendent of Brewer School Department.
With dozens of teaching positions cut over the past six years, and with an increase of over 100 students– nearly half of whom are special needs– there are state and federal mandates that the school has no choice but to follow.
And those mandates come at a cost…a cost that the district can’t currently afford.
“I can’t cut teacher positions, so we have to look elsewhere to find that money. Because we need those positions. So we really are going to have to look at co-curricular and athletics and that really is a shame that we would have to look at that,” said Towle.
The budget has been under consideration for some time.
A few weeks ago, the city offered the school district an additional $500,000 to help make up the deficit, but the school district says it is not enough.
Without the full million dollar addition, Towle says they will be forced to cut popular sports such as football and hockey.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, the council officially heard the entire proposal for the first time.
And while one million dollars is a lot to ask for…
“I want what’s best for everyone in the city of Brewer,” said Mayor Kevin O’Connell.
It’s something the city is now forced to take into consideration.
“Our job is to look out for every individual in the city of brewer. Of course we advocate for everybody, including the students,” said O’Connell.
To make this happen, each household in Brewer would see a $266 tax increase over the course of the year.
But members of the public don’t seem to mind.
“The bottom line is the school needs your support now to fund all the programs that are in this budget,” said one community member.
“For everyone who’s on the city council and in the audience, think about what your high school experience would have been without sports and after school activities,” said a current student.
“Athletics is what I’ve always considered the second half of education. There are things that are taught in the realm of athletics that cannot be taught in a classroom,” said a former coach.
The council will have until Tuesday to consider the proposal before it goes to a vote.
If passed, it will then go to a full city vote on June 13th.