Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana says his $113 million budget proposal “puts Portland at a crossroads.”

The Portland school budget would jump more than 7 percent in the upcoming fiscal year under the proposed budget district Superintendent Xavier Botana plans to present Tuesday.

Botana said changes to the state funding formula and increasing property values in Portland – which means the state expects the city to pay a larger share of school costs – have resulted in $3.4 million less than expected, while fixed costs such as salaries and benefits are increasing.

Botana is proposing a $113 million budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2019. That’s a 7.6 percent increase over the current $105 million budget. He said it would add less than $240 to the tax bill of the average home in Portland, valued at $240,000.

The budget scenario “puts Portland at a crossroads,” Botana said.

“We will be asking our community to make a clear choice,” the superintendent said in a release. “Do we continue to support great schools and invest in making them even better? Or, do we allow the weakening of our school system by failing to sustain the level of investment needed to maintain quality schools?”

One of the key changes in state funding has to do with how schools are paid for career and technical education programs, which is PATHS (Portland Area Technical High School) in Portland. In the past, sending districts would pay Portland directly for their students’ tuition at PATHS, so it was revenue the district collected outside of its state subsidy. Now, the state is paying those funds – $3.3 million – directly to Portland. But even with the addition of the career and technical education money, the district’s total state allocation is only about $700,000 more than last year.

The funding shift, plus several other factors, Botana said, have left the district about $3.4 million short in expected state funding.

Last year, the state subsidy to Portland was $16.3 million. This year it is $17 million.

Last year, the district had to revamp the budget several times after city officials rejected the initial budget proposal as too high. Voters eventually passed a $104.8 million school budget.

Botana will give his current budget presentation Tuesday at the board meeting beginning immediately after a 6 p.m. workshop at City Hall. Those meetings are streamed live and archived on the school district website.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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