Tuesday is back-to-school day for voters in Portland, South Portland, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth, where school budgets for the coming year face their final test — approval by residents.

In South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and the eastern portion of Scarborough, the budget votes coincide with a special election in state Senate District 7.

Voters in Portland will be weighing in on an $89.5 million school budget that was approved by the City Council on May 2.

If voters pass the school budget and the City Council approves a $201 million municipal budget, as expected later this month, city taxes will increase 2 percent.

Local spending on schools will decline for the third straight year, and Portland will continue to trim staff under the budget plan, school officials said. They noted that a new contract with Portland teachers will save the district nearly $1 million next year while adding five days to the school calendar.

In Scarborough, the Town Council approved and sent to voters a $35.5 million school budget after cutting $225,000 from the School Board’s proposal.

Councilors noted that the board had added $545,000 to the superintendent’s proposed budget, so the final amount is still $320,000 more than the superintendent initially requested.

They also pointed out that voters will be asked to approve a bond to pay for a replacement for Wentworth Intermediate School. Although a final cost has yet to be determined, it’s expected to be $30 million or more, and councilors said they want to keep taxes as low as possible with the bond proposal coming up.

The combined town and school budgets would increase taxes 2.69 percent.

South Portland residents will vote on a $42.8 million school budget that increases spending by 1 percent above last year’s budget.

The budget eliminates seven custodial positions, an attendance clerk, an academic tutor, two academic support educational technicians and a half-time social studies teacher at the high school. However, a proposal to institute a student activity fee was dropped and several positions targeted for elimination — two library clerks, two educational technicians and a guidance counselor/social worker — were restored during School Board budget deliberations.

With the proposed city budget, expected to be voted on later this month, South Portland taxes would increase 2.74 percent if the school board budget passes.

Like Portland, Cape Elizabeth school officials said a conservative new contract with teachers helped rein in spending for the coming school year.

Voters will pass judgment on a $21.1 million school budget that calls for cutting 1.5 teaching positions in the elementary school. The new contract limits pay increases this year to 0.5 percent.

With the municipal budget that was approved late last month, property taxes will rise 2.4 percent if voters approve the school budget.


Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]