Nearly eight out of every 10 voters who turned out at the polls Tuesday voted to approve a $105 million school budget for fiscal year 2018, according to unofficial results released by the city of Portland.
The education budget was passed by an unofficial count of 3,148 to 890, with 77.96 percent of votes in favor.
The budget eliminates 20 positions and does not include universal pre-kindergarten, but it does include before- and after-school programs, CBS 13 reported.
Portland voters also voted 3,406-to-656 to allow the Portland Board of Public Education to allocate additional state funds if the Legislature makes more money available for local schools.
Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana thanked the voters in a statement issued late Tuesday night.
“The budget is a responsible one approved by both the Portland Board of Public Education and the City Council in a very challenging budget year, in which the Portland Public Schools not only had to deal with standard personnel cost increases but a potential drastic cut in state education aid,” he said. “The budget voters approved represents a modest 1.4 percent increase in spending. It values employees, respects taxpayers and will allow the Portland Public Schools to continue the level of services to our students that Portland residents and our students deserve and expect. We are proud of the Portland community’s consistent support for our schools.”
Mayor Ethan Strimling released the following statement Tuesday night in response to the election results as well:
“I’m very pleased the people of Portland have passed the school budget. Once again, we have shown that putting our children first will always be our top priority. I hope this is a precursor to a strong vote this fall in support of transforming four of our elementary schools — Reiche, Longfellow, Lyseth and Presumpscot — into 21st Century centers of learning. Our city cannot thrive without fully investing in education.
“I also appreciate that the voters of the city have put their faith in the school board and council to allocate any additional state funding, should it come through. If the Legislature implements the will of the voters and fully funds education at 55 percent, Portland will likely see upwards of $10 million. Having an injection of revenue like that will game-changing for our schools and for Portland property tax payers. With these additional funds, I will work to ensure both that the quality of our education is to the standard we all seek and also to put as much of that money to property tax relief as possible.”
In the fall, city voters will vote on two school renovation plans, one which would involve borrowing $64 million to renovate the four schools Strimling listed, and another which would instead call for borrowing $31.6 million to fix up Lyseth and Presumpscot, while directing the city to apply for state funding for Reiche and Longfellow.