The Portland school finance committee voted unanimously Thursday to advance a $125.8 million budget that includes a number of new investments to further equity for students who are English language learners, have disabilities and are economically disadvantaged.

“I’m supportive of this budget. I think we all are,” said finance committee chair Anna Trevorrow, who thanked Superintendent Xavier Botana and staff for their work. “It’s continuing work, I know, and we can’t tell you how much we appreciate all your work.”

The budget will now move to a public hearing and first read before the full school board Tuesday.

The $125.8 million budget represents a $5.9 million, or 5 percent, increase and would result in a 6.3 percent increase in the school portion of the tax rate. However, the city is also undertaking a property revaluation that could lower the overall tax rate if there is an increase in the property tax base.

A total of $3 million of the increase would maintain current programs and services while $2.9 million would be allocated for new equity investments. Last year’s $119.9 million budget included no tax increase.

The theme of the budget is “advancing equity” and a large part of the increase would go to investments in the district’s Lau plan, which ensures the proper identification, programming and services for students who are English language learners.

Other new investments would include two additional pre-K classrooms and pre-K transportation; development of curriculum in Wabanaki and Africana studies and enhanced special education services. It would also include funding for a district ombudsman, as recommended in a recent report on allegations of discrimination and harassment by students on social media, and which would help implement the district’s new Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination policy.

In addition to the equity investments, the budget also calls for more nursing and social work staff to respond to the mental and physical needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, and establishing an outdoor learning coordinator to continue and expand on this year’s outdoor learning initiative.

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