Public can speak out on Portland school budgeting

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PORTLAND — Residents will soon have an opportunity to lend their voices to the annual school budgeting process.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at King Middle School, Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk will host a Town Hall-style meeting to discuss the budget for the 2014-2015 school year.

The meeting will begin with an overview by Caulk, followed by four “breakout sessions,” according to a news release from the School District. The sessions will last 30 minutes each, and will focus on four priorities for next year: core curriculum, student progress, innovation and infrastructure. Participants can attend two sessions of their choice.

“We have set a goal of becoming the best small urban school district in the country by 2017,” Caulk said in the release. “I encourage community residents to participate in the development of the FY 2015 budget as we work toward meeting that goal.”

Available now is the “Neighbor-to-Neighbor Toolkit” – an online guide to the budget process that is meant to encourage public participation and solicit feedback. The toolkit can be found at

The budget process begins each year in the fall and gains momentum in March when the superintendent presents a proposed budget to the School Board for review. Then, in April, a board-approved budget goes before the City Council. If accepted by the city, voters will either approve or reject the budget by a referendum in May.

The annual budget, which is approximately $98 million, is built from a variety of sources: 75 percent from local sources, such as property taxes, 16 percent from state subsidies, 4 percent from food service sales, and 5 percent from out-of-district tuition and other sources.

The largest share of budget expenses, 79 percent, goes toward salaries and benefits for faculty and staff. The rest of the budget covers debt repayment, facility maintenance, books, supplies, utilities and more.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.