A tentative proposal to significantly reorganize Portland schools for a one-time savings of $2.8 million was rejected Wednesday by a commission exploring cost-cutting options for the district.

The Enrollment and Facilities Commission decided not to put forward any specific cost-cutting recommendations, but will instead forward its research and findings to the school board. The full board will review the commission’s report at its meeting Tuesday .

Although the commission did not offer any specific recommendations, it suggested that “in the near term” the board and district should “seriously evaluate filling excess space in school buildings with programs or offices that currently exist outside of the elementary, middle, and high school buildings, in particular school administrative offices and Portland Adult Education.”

Commission members had been considering whether to recommend an “only if necessary” district reorganization, known as Option 2, if the district faces a large budget shortfall. It would have combined Portland and Deering high schools, created a single middle school for all students in grades 7-9 and created two schools for grades 5 and 6, among other changes.

At a public hearing in late February, several speakers criticized the proposal.

“While efficiency is suboptimal at some schools, the study commission did not uncover any obvious or easy reconfigurations that would improve efficiency without significant educational programming changes,” Commission Chairman Peter Eglinton said at the meeting, reading a statement that will be included in the commission’s report.

“Any future consideration to reconfigure educational programming should not be done hastily, or by a group solely charged with looking at demographic and efficiency data. Major shifts in grade configuration involves educational, programming and transportation considerations that went beyond the charge and scope of this study commission,” Eglinton said.

The commission was created last year, when district officials forecast a possible state funding cut of several million dollars. In recent weeks, the district learned that the governor’s budget would result in Portland getting a roughly $700,000 increase in state funding.

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

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