PORTLAND — The School Committee approved a $90 million budget for the coming year on Wednesday that preserves sports and music programs and fortifies the ranks of multilingual, middle school and world language teachers.

It also preserves several unidentified positions, worth a total of $180,000, among 80 jobs targeted for cuts in the $89.7 million budget recommended by Superintendent Jim Morse.

Marnie Morrione, finance committee member, said the budget reflects greater collaboration among principals in preparing a spending plan that represents a move toward equity and improvements across the district.

The budget would increase the annual property tax impact by nearly $800,000, from $66.7 million in the budget year ending June 30 to $67.4 million in 2010-11. That would add 11 cents on the tax rate, and increase the tax bill on a $200,000 home by $22.

The committee decided to spend $829,000 of the additional $1.6 million in state education aid that the district received after the superintendent presented his budget March 3.

The budget ignores a recommendation from the City Council’s finance committee to pass a budget with no tax increase, said Councilor John Coyne, who observed the school budget deliberations at Portland Arts and Technology High School.

The budget includes the following new positions:

8.5  teachers of students who are learning to speak English ($420,000)

three middle school social studies teachers ($150,000)

one middle school literacy specialist ($50,000)

one middle school technology aide ($35,000)

two elementary Spanish teachers ($100,000)

The budget also preserves the following positions or programs that had been targeted for cuts:

middle and high school sports programs ($340,000)

elementary band and K-12 strings programs ($120,000)

family living and human sexuality teacher ($75,000)

The family living teacher would be maintained for one year, while the district develops a plan to incorporate sex education into the health education curriculum. Two other family living teachers are retiring in June.

Several committee members also noted the need to find alternative funding sources for school sports and boost participation in music programs because the district is expected to lose an additional $4 million to $6 million in state and federal revenue in 2011-12.

The committee will present its budget to the City Council on Monday. Portland voters will be asked to consider the school budget in a May 11 referendum.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.