Editor’s note: The table accompanying this story was removed because of an error that incorrectly calculated the effect of MaineCare payments on the 2018-19 state subsidy amount, which led to incorrect calculations on the percentage change in state subsidies.

To look up detailed reports on district subsidies, go to the DOE website.

School districts across Maine got good news Friday when the state released increased funding projections to reflect Gov. Janet Mills’ $41.3 million addition to education funds in the first year of her proposed biennial budget.

The annual allocations, posted online by the Department of Education, spell out how much state money is sent to local school districts for the upcoming year, based on the state budget. The figures released Friday are preliminary, based on the governor’s budget, but district officials need the figures to determine their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning in July.

State education officials said there were some districts that saw a projected decrease in state funding, but Portland area districts saw increases in state funding.

That’s a far cry from last year, when wealthier communities largely saw decreases in state funding.

$17.6 MILLION FOR PORTLAND

Portland, which has been engaged in multiple cost-cutting studies because it anticipated a decrease in state funding, is expected to see an increase of about $700,000, from $16.9 million in the 2018-19 school year to $17.6 million in the figures projected for 2019-20.

“We don’t have a shortfall. That puts us in a very different position,” Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana said. That means funding may be available to pursue district and board goals of expanding pre-kindergarten and closing the Bayside Learning Community downtown and redistributing those services into multiple schools throughout the district. The school serves students with behavioral and emotional needs.

The amount of state funding for districts will change over the legislative session as the budget bill makes its way through the legislative process and bills are passed that affect education funding, or change the funding formula.

EXTRA $126 MILLION FOR K-12

The state has a complicated school funding formula that considers several factors, including the value of a district’s property tax base, the percent of low-income students it serves and the district’s special education costs.

Mills’ $8 billion budget proposal would add $126 million in funding for K-12 education over the two-year budget – $41 million in fiscal year 2020 and $85 million in fiscal year 2021.

The main factors in the increase in many districts’ funding is not just the additional funding, but an increase in special education money for wealthier communities that are known as “minimum receivers” because the state has determined they have enough revenue to pay their own school costs.

Scarborough Superintendent Julie Kukenberger said that they got a roughly $600,000 increase despite being a “minimum receiver” because the state increased funding for special education costs, from 40 percent last year to 45 percent. Scarborough, which has a $47 million school budget, will get $3.36 million in state aid.

REGIONAL SERVICE CENTERS

Some districts are getting additional funding because they joined regional service centers, while districts that have not joined regional centers are penalized with less funding for administration costs.

Portland, for example, got $188,150 for participating in the regional center. In Scarborough, Kukenberger said voters rejected the idea of joining a center, but the district would be bringing it back to voters this year.

 


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