PORTLAND – The school board will take another week to review a $92.8 million school budget proposal for the coming year before presenting it to the City Council next month, the board’s finance committee decided Tuesday evening.

The week will give Superintendent Jim Morse and his staff time to calculate the exact savings from 48 pending retirements and finish employee union contract negotiations, each of which is expected to have a significant effect on the budget.

The board’s finance committee also wants additional information on proposals to save secretarial jobs and adult education teaching positions, as well as clarified student enrollment projections.

“To the degree that you can, help me be certain,” said Ed Bryan, a committee member, in requesting enrollment figures.

The committee postponed its scheduled budget vote to March 29, to be followed by a full board vote April 5 and a budget presentation to the council at a later date.

A citywide vote on the school budget is scheduled for May 10. Jaimey Caron, the committee chairman, said it’s unclear whether the council will have to change the referendum date, but councilors were supportive of the additional time needed to prepare the school budget.

Morse provided a detailed accounting of $3.9 million in proposed budget cuts and $1.6 million in recommended spending increases.

Overall, 60.5 school positions would be eliminated; 80.5 positions are targeted for cuts, including 35.5 grant-funded positions, and Morse plans to create 20 new positions.

Morse also plans to reduce the $2.3 million adult education budget by $488,000, largely by replacing 8.5 contracted teaching positions with hourly instructors.

The proposed budget is $2.9 million — 3.2 percent — higher than the current $89.9 million budget. It reflects a $6 million reduction in state and federal funding and calls for spending a $1.2 million surplus from the 2009-10 school budget and $2 million remaining from last year’s federal jobs bill allocation.

The district has about 1,200 employees. It eliminated more than 50 positions last year in passing the current budget.

The proposed budget would increase the amount to be raised from property taxes by nearly $2.7 million — about 4 percent — from $67.4 million for this year to $70 million for 2011-12.

That would add an estimated 36 cents to the city’s tax rate of $17.92 per $1,000 of assessed property value, and increase the annual tax bill on a $200,000 home by $72.


Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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