Portland’s school superintendent is proposing a $132.9 million budget for the 2022-23 academic year, a 5 percent increase over this year that includes funding for pre-K, Portland Adult Education and school libraries.

The budget submitted by Superintendent Xavier Botana represents a $6.5 million increase over this year’s $126.5 million budget and would result in a 28-cent increase in the school tax rate, bringing it to $7.05 per $1,000 valuation from $6.77 per $1,000. The jump would mean an $84 increase in the annual tax bill for the owner of a home valued at $300,000.

The budget includes money for retaining current programs, adding one additional classroom to the pre-K program, bringing on teachers, educational technicians and librarians, and for increased costs due to inflation.

“Our goal is to build our capacity to strengthen core instruction for all students and make our schools more safe and equitable,” Botana said in the budget released Tuesday.

The lion’s share of the proposed budget increase would go toward salaries and benefits, which will rise by $4.3 million over the current fiscal year, the district said.

The budget allocates almost 89 percent of its suggested new investments budget – $320,760 – toward curriculum and assessment needs. Those needs include scaling up elementary science, continuing subscriptions for educational programs and transitioning the district’s Wabanaki studies coordinator and social studies teacher leader from part to full time.


The budget also proposes investing in the adult education program by bringing on a new full-time teacher for the English as a Second Language program.

The budget for next year is focused largely on maintaining existing programs and investments, rather than growing them or creating new ones, which means there are plenty of things the district was hoping to get next year but did not propose in the budget.

Those include investments in the world language and ESL program, mental health supports and special education programs.

Botana said it may be possible later in the year to allocate federal COVID-19 relief money to some areas that are not included in the budget.

Money is scarce for the Portland school district this year largely because of expected decreases in state and federal funding, increases in labor costs and inflation pressures.

School officials anticipate $21.4 million from the state for the fiscal year starting July 1. This year, the district received slightly over $24 million. The district also expects decreases in federal reimbursements for food services and programs to support students with emotional and behavioral needs.

Emily Figdor, school board chair for Portland Public Schools, said she was pleased with the budget this year considering the inflation rate, which has increased to almost 8 percent over the last 12 months, making the percentage increase in the school budget slightly more than half the current inflation rate.

Although Figdor said the district has tremendous needs, particularly for English language learners and special education students, she is optimistic about the budget. “This is a very workable budget,” she said.

Tuesday night’s budget proposal is just the beginning of a months-long budget process. The district finance committee, the board and the city are scheduled to work on the budget through March. It will then have to be approved by Portland’s school board in April and City Council in May before city voters get the chance to say yay or nay in June.

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