The Portland Public Schools board voted unanimously with one abstention Tuesday night to approve a $161.4 million budget for the 2024-25 school year that would require a tax increase of 6.6% and eliminate around 10 positions.

“I first want to recognize with the cuts made in this budget that we will lose staff that have dedicated years of their lives to this district,” board member Emily Figdor said before voting in favor of the budget. “I see you and thank you for all of the work you have done for Portland Public Schools.”

The increase in the schools portion of the property tax rate would result in an annual tax increase of $245 on a $500,000 home.

Portland’s overall property tax rate is the average of the municipal and school tax rates. The city and school board set their budgets and resulting tax rates, both of which must be approved by the City Council. The school budget also is sent to voters for approval.

This budget year, property owners got a 5.9% tax increase, the average of the city’s 6.1% tax increase and the school district’s 5.7% tax increase.

The city’s proposed $277 million general fund budget would increase the city side of the tax rate by 4.9%, increasing annual taxes on a $500,000 home by $170. If both budgets move forward as proposed, taxes would increase by $415 annually for the owner of a home assessed at $500,000.


This year’s school budget has garnered a significant amount of attention from educators, parents and other community members.

Rebecca Lynch Nichols, a Portland schools Spanish teacher, on Tuesday urged the school board to include more money to support world language instruction in the 2024-25 budget, saying it “uplifts” the district’s multilingual students and those who value multilingualism. Over 25% of Portland Public Schools students have a first language other than English, or are multilingual learners.

Portland resident Kathleen Finn opposed the tax increase the budget calls for.

“Please be fiscally responsible,” she told the board.

Superintendent Ryan Scallon proposed a budget on March 5 that called for the elimination of nearly 30 positions.

An amended version passed by the finance committee earlier this month reinstated 17 of those positions, including five education technicians, three classroom teachers and roles to support non-English speaking students, special education students, curriculum creation and administrative services. The board added back one more position, a math coach, on Tuesday.


This budget season is a particularly tricky one for the school district.

School leaders have said they are facing tight margins as they work to maintain services and limit the financial burden they put on taxpayers amid a loss of federal COVID-19 funding, inflation and increased student need.

An outside review of Portland schools conducted this year found that the district is regularly failing to provide grade level content, that students are not engaged and that the success of students varies based on the school attended, race and economic status, and that Portland students are scoring below average on statewide exams.

The school budget must also be approved by City Council and the public.

The school board is scheduled to present its budget to City Council on April 22. The City Council will then vote on May 20 about whether to send it back to the board before the public has a chance to vote on it on June 11.

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