Co-Superintendents Aaron Townsend and Melea Nalli and Board of Public Education Chair Sarah Lentz issued the following statements in response to city voters’ overwhelming approval June 13 of the Portland Public Schools’ $143.8 million budget for fiscal year 2024:
“We are deeply grateful to Portland voters for approving our school budget for the 2023-2024 school year,” Nalli and Townsend said in a joint statement. “The passage of the budget will now allow us to keep our focus on teaching and learning for the new school year. This is a responsible budget that balances the needs of the district with the fiscal realities that we are all facing. It will allow us to realize the district’s three key budget priorities for the next school year: maintaining the commitment to the Portland Promise goals of Achievement, Whole Student and People – all intertwined with the fourth central goal of Equity; being responsive to the needs of all students, especially those newly learning English; and improving operational effectiveness in such areas as finance and human resources. This budget does all that while simultaneously being mindful of the tax burden on Portland residents in a year when inflation is higher than most can remember.”
Board Chair Lentz said: “Our FY24 school budget is responsive to the incredible, vast, and often conflicting needs of the Portland Public Schools at a time of daunting budget challenges. We feel strongly that this budget is a fair and prudent one given the current circumstances. Thank you to our co-superintendents, my fellow Board members and district and school leaders and staff for months of hard work in crafting this budget, guided by community input. Thank you also to Mayor Snyder and the City Council for working collaboratively with us and for supporting this budget. I also am deeply thankful to Portland voters for approving this budget. I am proud to live in a place where community members consistently demonstrate that they value public education.”
The budget was approved by a wide margin. According to unofficial results from the office of Portland City Clerk on Tuesday, June 13, the vote to validate the budget was 8,811 or 75.7 percent in favor and 2,428 or 20.9 percent opposed, a margin of 3 to 1.
Learn more about the budget HERE.
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 49.8 percent of the district’s students are white and 50.2 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.