Portland voters approve $1.9M supplemental school budget

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PORTLAND — Despite an expected low turnout, Portland voters approved the $1.9 million supplemental Portland school budget referendum Wednesday.

The budget passed 1,338 to 243, with just 3 percent of the nearly 51,000 registered voters casting ballots.

“The referendum results reinforce what we long have known: Portland residents are deeply committed to providing the best education possible to the young people in our public schools,” Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a press release after the vote.

School Department officials have said the additional money, which was provided after the state Legislature overruled Gov. Paul LePage’s budget veto in June, will be used to cover about $1.3 million in teacher retirement costs. 

Additionally, about $520,000 is expected to be used to hire back eight positions of the more than 50 jobs that were cut when voters passed the initial $96.4 million school budget in May. 

Another $20,000 of the supplemental budget will be used to cover the cost of the nine students attending the city’s first charter school, Baxter Academy of Technology and Science, which opened Wednesday.

The vote will not raise property taxes.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.