A proposed $94.2 million Portland Public Schools budget breezed to passage at the polls Tuesday, with 1,000 city residents notching in favor of the spending plan and just 562 voting against it.
Percentage-wise, that breaks down to about 64 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed to a fiscal year 2013 budget that was cut by $700,000 over the past few weeks.
Tuesday’s referendum vote cements a large portion of city spending for 2013. Next Monday, the City Council will consider passage of the municipal budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
As I covered in past blog posts, the reductions made to the Portland school budget, which was originally proposed to be $94.9 million by both outgoing Superintendent James Morse and the School Board, don’t devastate the initiatives included in the new spending plan, which is a $4 million-plus jump from the fiscal year 2012 budget of $89.3 million, but comes on the heels of several years of deep cuts.
As School Board Chairwoman Kate Snyder told the council late last month, the district cut 100 positions over the past four years while facing decreased state subsidies and tough economic times (not to mention the now infamous 2007 $2.5 million budget overrun that saddled the system with financial trouble for years.)
Maintained in the fiscal year 2013 budget are the expansion of pre-kindergarten in the city, partially restored funding for adult education and increases in foreign language classes. Making up the cuts are nearly $530,000 in new technology payments moved from the school budget to the city’s capital improvements budget, as well as about $175,000 in lower-than-anticipated health insurance costs.