Brunswick High seniors ask board to up grad budget

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BRUNSWICK — A group of Brunswick High School seniors on Wednesday petitioned the School Board to put more money towards funding high school graduation at Bowdoin College.

In an appeal to board members, Sarah Judd, the treasurer for the BHS Class of 2015 and Lancelot Naipier-Kane, the student body treasurer, said the district should add $4,000 to the $10,000 cap it implemented on graduation funding in August.

The request comes as new figures from the School Department indicate graduation will cost about $14,300.

Adding funding will help keep the event open to the public without the need for tickets, while eliminating the need for seniors to raise money for their own graduation, the two seniors said.

“I believe that pressuring seniors to focus on fundraising increases the overall anxiety and stress of the students,” Naipier-Kane told the board, adding that the practice could set a precedent for other graduating classes.

Board members have previously stated that it was never their intention for graduating seniors to pay for their own commencement.

The school board implemented the funding cap in August in response to ballooning cost estimates of holding the 2015 graduation at Bowdoin’s Watson Arena.

Because of a board decision to change the commencement date, early estimates indicated that the event could cost close to $28,000, mostly due to increased vendor fees for chairs and audio-video systems.

Since then, the School Department has been able to reduce the price by eliminating a big-screen projector and some audio-video services, according to figures provided by the superintendent’s office.

The projected cost of graduation now stands at $14,288, which is about $500 less than last year’s cost. Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said the department is still working to winnow the expense down.

Judd told the board that the senior class was willing to do without a big screen, but didn’t want to sacrifice the $7,000 it has raised for senior prom over the past three years to pay the difference between the cap and the likely budget.

“Graduation is an important event for the senior class and we’re trying to make sure it stays such a positive experience for the school as well as the town,” Judd said.

In an interview outside the meeting, Judd said she was hopeful that the board would reconsider its cap now that it had more concrete numbers to work with.

The senior class does not intend to put forward any of the money it has already raised toward the effort, Judd added.

But Board Member Jim Grant, speaking after the meeting, said the board never intended for students to pay.

“They are not going to be spending their prom money on graduation,” Grant said.

“Now, if there are some donors that are out that would like to help us, some corporate sponsors or people that have endowments, by all means, step forward,” he added.

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.

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