Portland voters go to the polls next Tuesday to vote on the school budget, even as big questions around education funding roil the State House.

“I’m glad we are at this point,” Superintendent Xavier Botana said Wednesday. “It’s been a long and arduous process.”

Portland’s proposed 2017-18 school budget is $104.8 million, about a 1.2 percent increase from the $103.6 million budget for the current school year. The total is higher than the referendum amount because it includes grant and fee-based funding for programs such as adult education and food service.

Like school districts across the state, Portlanders will decide on a school budget without knowing how much state funding will actually flow to the city in the coming year. The Maine Legislature is not expected to settle those issues or the rest of the two-year state budget until the end of the month.

Portland, along with some other communities, is handling the uncertainty by presenting voters with two ballot questions. One question seeks approval to spend $99.6 million for the core portion of the school budget, and a second question seeks authorization for the school board, with City Council approval, to spend any additional state money by adding it to school programs, increasing the reserve fund or using it to reduce taxes.

Traditionally, Portland voters have approved the school budget in the first vote.

Portland’s proposed school budget would result in a 2.75 percent increase in the education portion of property taxes, or 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That would add an estimated $70 to the tax bill of a home valued at $250,000.

When combined with the municipal budget approved by the City Council, the overall tax rate would go up 54 cents per $1,000 of property value, or $135 on the tax bill of $250,000 home.

The budget going to voters Tuesday is the third version of the budget for Botana, who was asked to cut it to lower the tax impact.

The original $107 million budget proposal would have increased the taxes needed to support education by 6.5 percent. It included funding for several new programs the board supported as part of its comprehensive plan.

Botana cut the funding for those new programs, which included efforts to help raise math scores and assimilate new Mainers, and he trimmed sports and supply budgets and cut a handful of teaching and ed tech positions.

Several board members have said they want any additional state money to go toward restoring those cuts first.

Several factors squeezed the budget. Expenditures are up 4.5 percent from the current budget, 80 percent of that due to a $3.8 million increase in salary and benefits required by contract. At the same time, Portland’s estimated state allocation is down $2 million from this year, to $13.5 million.

The budget presumes that the district will get an additional $1 million in state funds. That’s based on previous years’ experience and feedback from the Portland legislative delegation. However, if the extra million is not allocated, the district will have to make cuts, Botana said.

“Without that revenue that we are building into our budget assumptions, we will have to look at areas to cut,” he said Tuesday. “There are no easy cuts at that point. We’re already past easy cuts.” The school budget vote isn’t the last time voters will weigh in at the ballot box for Portland schools this year.

In November, voters will decide two rival bond measures related to school construction in Portland. One question is for a $64 million bond that would use local tax dollars to renovate four schools. A second question is for a $32 million bond to renovate two schools while seeking state funding for the others. A majority vote is needed at the ballot box to authorize a bond. If both questions receive more than 50 percent of the vote, the question with more “yes” votes will win. If both get a majority and the same number of “yes” votes, the question with fewer “no” votes will be enacted.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine