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School Board to Hold Budget Public Hearing March 24

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School Board to Hold Budget Public Hearing March 24
Posted on 03/19/2015

The Portland Board of Education’s Finance Committee held a public hearing on March 18 on School Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk’s proposed FY2016 school budget. The committee then voted to recommend the budget to the School Board.

The School Board on Tuesday, March 24, will hold a first reading and public hearing on the recommended budget. The special meeting at Ocean Avenue School will begin at 6 p.m. The meeting will be followed by a budget workshop.

The superintendent has proposed a budget for fiscal year 2016 that calls for investments that strengthen the Portland Public Schools’ core academic program, stimulate progress for all learners, drive innovation, improve infrastructure and increase family and community engagement.

The $102,776,657 budget, which Caulk presented to the School Board on March 10, also is sensitive to the impact on taxpayers. It contains an expenditure increase of less than $1.2 million or 1.2 percent. The budget would increase the school portion of Portland’s tax rate by 23 cents or 2.3 percent, adding $23 to an annual tax bill per $100,000 of value.

Declining state support for schools directly impacts the budget. To date, the governor’s proposed education budget cuts Portland’s Essential Programs and Services (EPS) funding by $920,000 or 6.5 percent. Because the schools have limited capacity for generating revenue, the decrease in state aid impacts the amount in local tax dollars needed to support current education programming and services.

If the EPS revenue was flat-funded, the tax rate increase would only be 1.1 percent, an $11 increase to the tax bill per $100,000 of valuation, instead of $23. In addition, the proposed budget continues to carry the cost of teacher retirement, a cost the state had historically covered until it shifted that cost onto local districts in FY2014. If the state again paid the cost of teacher retirement, the school portion of a tax increase in Portland would be zero or even less.

Other important school budget dates include:

• March 26, a joint meeting of the School Board and City Council finance committees, 6 p.m. City Hall, Room 209, to discuss the superintendent’s recommended FY2016 school budget.

• March 31, a School Board vote to recommend the FY2016 school budget to the City Council, 7 p.m., special meeting at Casco Bay High School.

• April 6, the School Board presents its recommended budget to the City Council, 7 p.m., City Hall Council Chambers.

• April 9, a joint meeting of the School Board and City Council finance committees, 6 p.m. City Hall, Room 209, to discuss the board’s recommended FY2016 school budget.

• April 27, City Council workshop and first reading and public hearing on the recommended school budget, 5:30 p.m., City Council Chambers.

• May 4, City Council second reading and vote on school budget for referendum, 7 p.m., City Council Chambers.

• May 12, public referendum on FY2016 school budget.