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Board Recommends $117.8 Million Budget

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Board Recommends $117.8 Million Budget
Posted on 04/09/2019
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The Portland Board of Public Education voted unanimously on April 8 to recommend to the City Council a fiscal year 2020 budget of $117.8 million. The budget preserves current staffing and programming, expands the district’s pre-kindergarten program, strengthens core instruction and implements a behavioral health continuum.

“I’m proud of the budget we approved,” said Board Chair Roberto Rodriguez. “I believe the investments we are envisioning will have a positive impact on all Portland Public Schools families.”

The FY20 budget that the Board approved is virtually identical to the one proposed by Superintendent Xavier Botana on March 19, but includes an additional $40,000 to continue a pre-kindergarten/kindergarten class at Peaks Island Elementary School. The Board’s Finance Committee made that addition when it recommended the budget to the full Board on March 28.

Rodriguez said the budget is now no longer the superintendent’s budget or the Finance Committee’s budget. “It’s the School Board’s budget,” he said. “We own it and we have to be the face of it.” He urged Board members “to proudly stand up” for it over the next couple months as the budget goes before the City Council, which sets the bottom line of the school budget, and out to a public vote in June. “I’m ready to advocate for this budget the rest of the way up to the June 11th referendum,” Rodriguez said.

The board will present its recommended FY20 school budget to the City Council on April 22. The Council then will send the budget to its Finance Committee for an April 25 review and recommendation on its bottom line. The council will hold a first reading and public hearing on the budget on May 6 and vote on it May 20.

The proposed $117.8 million budget for FY20 is up $7.2 million or 6.6 percent over FY19. It would raise the overall school tax rate by $0.61 to $11.75, an increase of just over 5.4 percent. The school portion of the annual tax bill for the average home in Portland (valued at $240,000) would increase by about $146, or just over $12 per month.

The budget calls for adding pre-kindergarten classrooms, investing in core instruction in such ways as adding an elementary phonics curriculum and increasing professional development in the areas of elementary math and elementary literacy, and adding staff, such as social workers and behavioral health professionals, to support students with behavioral and emotional challenges due to such factors as trauma, health impairments and family circumstances. Other budget priorities include replacing laptops for elementary and sixth-grade teachers and creating incentives to attract more bus drivers.

All the budget investments are designed to help the district realize the goals of the Portland Promise, the district’s strategic plan adopted in 2017. The district has set five-year targets to make progress toward the four goals – Achievement, Whole Student, Equity, and People.

Rodriguez said that the Portland Public Schools offers “a great educational experience” that is reflected in the success of many of its financially advantaged students. However, opportunity and academic achievement gaps exist for the district’s economically disadvantaged students and Rodriguez said this budget will help those students.

“These are the type of investments that will have a direct effect on their lives and that will extend that amazing opportunity that the Portland Public Schools offers to everybody,” he said. “When we talk about achievement and opportunity gaps, this is how we fix them.”      

To see an extended budget timeline and view the budget document and related materials, click HERE.

Watch YouTube video of the board's April 8 meeting on the budget by clicking HERE.