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Revised School Budget Goes to Voters June 11

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Revised School Budget Goes to Voters June 11
Posted on 05/23/2019
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A revised FY20 school budget of $117.4 million will go to Portland voters in a budget validation referendum on Tuesday, June 11. Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana is urging city residents to support the school budget at the polls.

At its May 21 meeting, the Portland Board of Public Education voted to reduce its original recommended $117.8 million school budget by $450,000, as directed by the City Council. At its May 20 meeting, the Council made cuts to the school budget and municipal services in an effort to reduce the overall impact on the tax rate.

Botana said the school budget retains its key goals of preserving current staffing and programming, expanding the district’s pre-kindergarten program, strengthening core instruction and implementing a behavioral health continuum. He urged Portland residents to make their voices heard and vote to support the budget in June.

“I am very grateful to the City Council and School Board for their support of the budget,” Botana said. “We worked very closely to make sure that the elected officials understood the value of retaining our core programming and implementing key improvements such as expanded pre-kindergarten classes and a well resourced behavioral health continuum.  These investments in the future of our City are proof that this is a community that believes in the importance and value of public education and is willing to support those values with action.”

The Council sets the bottom line of the school budget. Councilors at their May 20 meeting voted to reduce the $117.8 million FY20 school budget that the Board had recommended to the Council on April 8. The Board’s original recommended budget was up $7.2 million over the FY19 budget. It would have raised the school portion of the city tax rate by just over 5.4 percent.

The revised FY20 $117.4 million school budget that the Board approved May 21 is now $6.8 million over the FY19 budget. It raises the school portion of the tax rate by 4.9 percent.

Changes made in the $117.8 million school budget to reduce it by $450,000 include:

          Postponing a plan for four additional educational technicians and a social worker at Deering and Portland high schools for students in the behavioral health program called Breathe.  

          Revising upward the reimbursement revenue the district estimates it will receive from Medicaid for students in the Breathe program from 75 percent to 80 percent. The estimate is still a conservative one.

          Eliminating projected purchases of replacement furniture and upgrades of the school district’s radios.

          Reducing by half the allocation to provide new laptop computers for elementary teachers.

          Cutting back on contractual service lines and reducing the Board’s contingency fund.