Ryan Scallon is superintendent of Portland Public Schools. He can be reached at superintendent@portlandschools.org.

As we approach the close of the school year, Portland Public Schools is focused on some final goals. One is the successful passage of a school budget for the 2024-25 school year. We’re also finalizing our summer learning plans and our high schools are preparing for commencement.

We’re near the end of the FY25 budget process. The Board of Education’s recommended $161.4 million budget has been endorsed by the City Council’s Finance Committee and the council held a public hearing on it May 6. On Monday, May 20, the council will hold a second public hearing and vote on a school budget to send to city voters June 11.

Compared to the total overall FY24 budget of approximately $163.1 million, the FY25 budget is a reduction of about $1.7 million. The FY24 budget consisted of a local budget of $144 million and $19 million in non-local funds. The FY25 budget consists of $154 million in the local part of the budget, with about $7 million in other funds. The local part of the budget is what the council and city residents will vote on.

Our FY25 budget lives up to its “centering students” theme. It includes strategic funding for increased student mental health resources, reading support, special education and school climate support at the school level. It also supports increased rigor in the classroom and maintains funding for athletics, extracurriculars and class sizes.

It’s also mindful of Portland taxpayers. Our unique fiscal challenges for FY25 include the loss of about $9.4 million in federal COVID relief funds, relatively flat state funding and increasing expenses. The budget process started with an anticipated $19.4 million shortfall that – without any cuts – would have necessitated a 17.41% increase in the school tax rate. However, due to sizable reductions and restructuring, the board’s budget entails a 6.6% (49-cent) increase in the tax rate. For a $375,000 median-priced home in Portland, this would increase taxes by $183.75 per year, approximately $15 per month.

This budget is as responsive as possible to the needs of students, families and taxpayers, and has been truly a community effort. I encourage everyone to continue to be engaged and support it all the way through the referendum. See portlandmaine.gov for voting information.


Teaching and learning continue right up through the last day of school for students on June 14 – and we’re also putting in place various programs to give more than 500 students an extra learning boost this summer. The summer programs will be primarily supported by the remaining federal COVID funding that expires this September.

Those will include a summer program with community partner LearningWorks for 270 of our elementary school students, virtual math tutoring opportunities for middle school students and summer intensives for credit recovery for our high school students. In addition, there will be a summer bridge program to help rising ninth graders successfully transition to high school.

Look out for communications from your child’s school about summer programs they may recommend for your child.

Last but not least, high school commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2024 will all be at Merrill Auditorium. Portland High School’s 203rd commencement will take place the morning of June 5. Deering High School’s 150th graduation exercises will be in the morning on June 6 and Casco Bay High School’s 16th commencement will be that same evening. Portland Adult Education will hold its 176th graduation exercises on June 27.

Congratulations to all these students as they graduate prepared and empowered for college and careers.

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