Portland’s school superintendents are proposing a $141.3 million budget for the 2023-24 academic year, an $8.2 million increase over this year’s $133.1 million budget.

The budget presented by co-interim Superintendents Melea Nalli and Aaron Townsend Tuesday night would mean a 7 percent, or 50-cent, increase in the school portion of the city’s tax rate. That would mean a tax increase of $187 on a $375,000 home, the median house price in Portland.

The $8.2 million increase is needed to cover inflation, a more than $4 million increase in salaries, programs for a rapidly rising number of multilingual students and increases in special education costs, as well as to improve basic operations such as payroll and transportation and to cover debt service on school renovation bonds, the superintendents said.

Spending increases include $7.7 million to maintain current services and programs and $3.8 million for new investments. These costs would be offset somewhat by reducing spending in other areas by $775,000 and using $2.5 million of one-time pandemic relief money.

Almost all of the new investment spending – $3.4 million – would go to bolster the finance and human resources departments, pay for out of district placements for special education students, as required by law, and support the significant increase in multilingual students.

Even with the proposed spending increase, the district expects to have to tighten its belt next year. The superintendents said sticking to their proposed spending plan would leave little money for new investments and lead to a 5 percent reduction in all non-salary spending, among other cuts.


The district must also absorb a $2.4 million reduction in state funding, the superintendents said, as well as the loss of many grants that have supported basic programs.

The proposal is less than what it would cost to maintain programs at their current levels, but would allow the district to preserve core programming and increase funding for the finance and human resources departments and to outsource payroll, the superintendents said.

The district will receive $19.1 million in state funding for the next school year, down from $21.5 million this year. State funding is set under a formula that calculates what it will cost a district to cover essential education needs and how much a district should be able to contribute based on its property values.

The proposal introduced Tuesday night is the beginning of a months-long process to approve a budget ahead of the 2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The district’s finance committee, the school board and the city are scheduled to work on the budget over the next month before it goes to a school board vote on April 11 and to the City Council for approval on May 15. Voters will have their say on June 13.

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