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FY20 Budget Asks Community To Invest in Students

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FY20 Budget Asks Community To Invest in Students
Posted on 03/19/2019
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Superintendent Xavier Botana presented his $117.8 million fiscal year 2020 school budget proposal to the Portland Board of Public Education on Tuesday, March 19. He asked the Portland community to invest in quality education by supporting the budget. In addition to preserving current staffing and programming, his proposal also would expand the district’s pre-kindergarten program, strengthen core instruction and implement a behavioral health continuum.

Pre-K expansion, stronger core instruction and the behavioral health continuum all will 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.

“Goals alone will not get us there,” Botana said. “We must continue to invest in key strategies to realize them.”

He said the district is fortunate that its worst fears for a large decrease in state funding in this budget cycle haven’t materialized. Instead, based on Gov. Janet Mills’ proposed state budget, Portland anticipates receiving a small increase in state funding – approximately  $700,000. “While positive,” Botana said, “the increase in state revenue does not keep up with our revenue needs.”

He explained that the state’s complex school-funding formula allots less state funding to communities like Portland that have high property valuation, expecting them to be able to contribute more to local education. “That means that – without significant changes to the state funding formula – we must continue to ask our community’s property owners to fund more of the cost of education in Portland,” Botana said.

His proposed $117.8 million budget for FY20 is up $7.2 million or 6.5 percent over FY19. It requires an investment from local taxpayers of $5.7 million. It would raise the overall school tax rate by $0.60 for a total rate of $11.74, an increase of 5.4 percent. This would increase the school portion of the annual tax bill for the average family home in Portland (valued at $240,000) by $144, or $12 per month.

“We recognize that the tax effort we are proposing is significant, but it also is a necessary investment to provide the quality education that our community deserves and has come to expect,” Botana said.

The district has been looking for possible cost-saving efficiencies by consolidating and reconfiguring schools. Last week, the Enrollment and Facility Study Commission that the Board established in the fall to study such options determined that the savings that would result from the scenarios would cause significant disruptions to the education system, and wouldn’t justify themselves at this time.

The district and state and local elected officials continue to explore new sources of revenue for education, Botana said. “Please know that we’ll continue to look actively for revenue solutions that are beyond raising the taxes of our homeowners and renters,” he said.

He encouraged the Portland community – Portland Public Schools families, school staff and other city residents – to stay engaged and informed in the budget process, which culminates in a June 11 public referendum on the budget.

The Board on March 19 voted to refer the superintendent’s budget recommendation to its Finance Committee. That committee will hold its first review of the budget on Thursday, March 21, at 6 p.m. in room 234 of Central Office, located at 353 Cumberland Avenue. The committee also will hold a public forum on the budget proposal on Tuesday, March 26, at the same time and location.

A complete budget timeline can be found on the district’s website by clicking on the school budget banner or by clicking HERE.

Click HERE to read or download the superintendent's FY20 budget proposal.