Per the town charter, "the general management, care, conduct and control of the schools of said town which shall be vested in a school committee". The School Committee sets school policy and controls the school budget. The Town Council can approve/disapprove the total school budget, but not individual line items within the school budget.
Since the school budget is 67% of the total town spending, it is important to understand the major drivers of the school budget. Over 70% of the school budget is for instruction, which is basically pay and benefits for teachers. The next largest budget items, at 8% each, are debt service (money owed for the school building expansions/renovations) and operations & maintenance (heating, cleaning, and maintaining the buildings). All other expenses combined -- administration, transportation (buses), athletics, and technology account for the last 15% of the budget.
The major driver -- instruction -- boils down to how many teachers are employed and how much they earn. Their wage and benefits contracts are negotiated by the teachers union and the School Committee. The number of teachers is driven primarily by student enrollment. More students means more teachers.
I'm running for Town Council and not for School Committee, but here are my personal observations and opinions from observing the Yarmouth Schools, Administration/Teachers/Staff, and School Committee for the past 20 years as a parent and as a town councilor:
Yarmouth schools provide an excellent educational experience for our students. The high quality of Yarmouth's schools is a major driver for attracting people to the town and is largely responsible for the relatively high value of homes in town.
Yarmouth schools deliver this high quality education efficiently, as evidenced by the low per pupil expenditures compared with our peer group towns like Cumberland, Falmouth, Scarborough, and Cape Elizabeth (see bar graph below).
For years, Yarmouth school budgets have maintained the current level of services. In more recent years, there have been a few new programs to address changing demands and strategic initiatives, but the school budgets are still mostly "maintenance" budgets.
Budget increases are driven primarily by growing school enrollment and debt service.
I strongly support our schools and am thankful to all the teachers, staff, administrators, School Committee, and Yarmouth taxpayers for upholding Yarmouth's tradition of educational excellence.
The bar graph is from Superintendent Dr. Andrew Dolloff's narrative presentation of the proposed FY22 School Budget dated January 25, 2021