May 15, 2012

Portland voters OK $94.2 million school budget

Spending is up 5.3 percent over the current year.

By Tom Bell
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Voters today in a citywide referendum approved the school system's $94.2 million budget for the upcoming school year, by a margin of 64 percent to 36 pecent.

Exactly 1,000 voters approved the budget and 562 voters rejected it.

Turnout was very low, with just over 3 percent of the city’s 48,528 voters going to the polls.

State law requires school districts to hold referendums for final budget approval by a majority of voters.

The budget provides $4.7 million in additional spending over the current school budget, an increase of  5.3 percent.

The budget includes the expansion of Spanish language programs at elementary schools and $100,000 for two new early-education classrooms as part of a partnership with the Catherine Morrill Day Nursery and the federal Head Start program. The classes would be at the Longfellow and Riverton schools.

It also includes a $71,000 increase for English language courses run by Portland Adult Education.  Those courses have had a surge in enrollment in recent years, and have a waiting list of 160 people. The additional funding would cut the waiting list in half.

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