South Portland school budget approved by 3-1 margin

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SOUTH PORTLAND —  The city’s $49 million school budget passed overwhelmingly Tuesday, 905-283.

“We are very appreciative of the support of the South Portland community,” Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin said Wednesday. “We believe we have worked hard to present a fiscally responsible budget that continues to move educational improvement forward.”

The fiscal 2018 budget calls for an increase of $1.2 million, or 2.4 percent, over the current spending of $47.6 million.

While 76 percent of voters supported the budget, turnout was only 5.9 percent of the city’s more than 20,000 registered voters.

The spending plan includes capital improvement items totaling just over $1 million and funds for facilities, transportation and technology.  Some of the proposed projects include school technology upgrades; the purchase of a bus and two seven-passenger vans; high school repairs and storage, and security cameras.

The budget includes salary and benefit increases of more than $1 million, but an almost equal amount was reduced through retirements and staff reductions.

The School Board is expecting a reduction of more than $305,000 in state subsidy, which was almost $6 million this year. Increases in health-care premiums also drove the budget.

The City Council has authorized the board to use any additional state subsidy to fund schools and to give a portion back to residents for property tax relief.

“We look forward to the conclusion of the state budget process and whether this will change, and hopefully increase, our state subsidy,” Kunin said.

The budget, which takes effect July 1, was approved by city councilors May 15. It was adopted by the School Board April 10.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Updated June 15, 2017, with comments from the superintendent of schools.