The budget has three goals: advancing equity, mainstreaming COVID innovation, and rebuilding the academic and socio-emotional foundations after COVID.
PORTLAND, Maine – Voters in Portland have voted in favor of the school district’s $ 125.2 million budget for the upcoming school year.
The budget passed with 77% of the vote, the city of Portland said in a tweet Tuesday night. The budget has three goals: advancing equity, mainstreaming COVID innovation, and rebuilding the academic and socio-emotional foundations after COVID.
The budget is up 4.4% (or roughly $ 5.3 million) from this year’s budget of $ 119.9 million. Approximately $ 2.4 million of this additional funding would be used to maintain current programs and services and to cover increased costs of salaries and benefits. The remaining $ 2.9 million would be used to advance equity by filling gaps in achievement and opportunity for students learning English, those with disabilities or those in financial difficulty, etc.
This budget proposal is about $ 660,000 less than the budget of $ 125.8 million proposed by Superintendent Xavier Botana in March. Portland Public Schools say the decrease is due to the fact that health insurance costs for employees are lower than expected and that schools have received more public funds for vocational and technical education than initially expected.
On May 10, Portland city council voted seven to two to approve the budget proposal, rejecting an amendment to reduce the amount in an attempt to mitigate some financial impacts on taxpayers. The proposed budget would increase the school share of the tax rate by around 5.5%, but the overall tax rate would only increase by around 1% as city council unanimously passed a reduction of four. percent of municipal tax rate Monday. There was also no tax increase last year due to the pandemic.
The district has received tens of millions of dollars in federal COVID-19 support, but the Portland public school system says it is being used to meet other needs, like hiring new staff from one year, improving facilities and investing in new technology.
Superintendent Xavier Botana issued the following statement in response to the results:
“Thank you, Portland voters, for your continued support of our school budget for the 2021-2022 school year. This budget, approved by both the Portland Board of Public Education and city council, not only maintains current programs and services, but puts equity at the center of our work by investing to close the gaps in achievement and development. opportunities for students who learn English, are disabled and economically disadvantaged. I am proud to work and live in a community that consistently shows that it believes not only in the value of public education, but also in making it accessible to everyone. With the support of the Portland community for our schools, we can now move forward and focus all of our energies on planning for the return of students to full-time learning this fall.
Board chair Emily Figdor also released a statement, saying:
“The voters of Portland have once again spoken decisively in favor of our schools. I am delighted and so grateful to be part of a community that deeply values public education. We are taking a step forward with this budget to finally offer children marginalized by society an equitable education. This budget will open doors, unlock so much potential and change the lives of children. I couldn’t be more thrilled that it went – and by such a big margin. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Portland voters!
Voters also chose charter commissioners. In August, the council approved the appointment of three members to the charter commission and determined that nine more will be elected by voters. These results will be posted on the City of Portland website when they are finalized.