Public hearings begin on Portland public school budget

The Portland Board of Education voted last month to approve the $ 125.5 million school budget proposal for FY2022.

PORTLAND, Maine – Monday marked the first of two public hearings before Portland City Council regarding the Portland Public School budget proposal.

“I fully support the budget as presented,” said one resident.

“I strongly urge you to vote to approve the proposed budget,” said another resident.

The Portland Board of Education voted last month to approve the proposed $ 125.5 million school budget for fiscal year 2022.

The budget contains investments to address three themes: “Embedding COVID Innovations”, “Rebuilding Academic and Socio-Emotional Foundations After COVID” and “Advancing Equity”.

“A vision to improve opportunities and outcomes for students who have been on the margins for too long. Students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged, ”said school board chairwoman Emily Figdor.

Also last month, the city’s finance committee recommended cutting the proposal by nearly $ 1.5 million. This does not suit some members of the public.

“The budget centers equity and would allow the district to take big steps towards calibrating the effects of the opportunity gap,” said one resident.

“I think that’s how we do the job. I constantly hear people talk about doing the equity and inclusion work and that’s it,” said another resident.

The board’s school budget for fiscal year 22 is up 4.4% or $ 5.3 million from this year’s budget of $ 119.9 million, according to the Portland Public Schools communications coordinator , Tess Nacelewicz. Nacelewicz said about $ 2.4 million of the increase is a base budget that maintains current programs and services and covers increased costs for salaries, benefits and debt service. Equity investments totaling $ 2.9 million make up the remainder, according to Nacelewicz. The budget, which assumes a full return to in-person learning this fall, requires an increased investment of $ 6.2 million from local taxpayers and would result in a 5.5% increase in the school portion of the rate. ‘taxation.

There will be another public hearing before the council vote on April 10.


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