March 26, 2019
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Potential Portland budget cuts could include island school closures

Seth Koenig | BDN
Seth Koenig | BDN
The central offices of Portland Public Schools on Cumberland Avenue.

Next week, Portland city councilors are expected to vote on next year’s school budget.

Some believe the district needs to trim its budget.

The Portland superintendent and his top administrators spent the better part of the day Thursday in meetings, talking about next year’s school budget. This, after the council’s finance committee voted 2-1 in favor of cutting $1.1 million from that budget.

Nick Mavodones is one of the councilors who voted to cut next year’s nearly $112 million Portland school budget.

“We need to find some balance where we take into consideration our taxpayers’ needs and the needs of the school department,” Mavodones said.

Mayor Ethan Strimling voted against the cuts.

“Slashing the school budget … could send us backwards, and I won’t support that,” Strimling told CBS 13.

Members of many local Parent Teacher Organizations side with the mayor, but say if there has to be cuts, they shouldn’t impact student programs and teachers.

“The PTOs have set forth some priorities about maintaining class sizes, about not closing schools,” said Ben Grant of the Ocean Avenue Elementary School PTO.

Cuts recommended by Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana are in direct conflict with those wishes.

They include increasing class sizes, eliminating middle school electives, and closing the island schools. Portland Public Schools currently operates schools on Peaks and Cliff islands.

“If you take away the elementary school, you begin to diminish the year round viability of an island,” Mavodones said.

Mavadones says there are less harmful ways to cut the budget.

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