Student activities hit as Portland schools make mid-year cuts of $60K

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PORTLAND — Deering High School girls’ ice hockey and the Portland High School literary magazine are among organizations hit by $60,000 in mid-year cuts to co-curricular activities.

Superintendent James C. Morse Sr. said the reductions are an administrative response to a School Board directive to find savings and do not require any further approvals.

Morse said administrators met throughout the summer and fall to discuss possible cuts for the current school year. 

“The criterion to determine reductions was based on enrollment numbers for each activity,” Portland High School Assistant Principal Steve Rogers, who was recently named the district’s co-curricular coordinator, said in a memo.

Morse said the schools petitioned the Maine Principals Association to allow girls attending Deering and Portland high schools to play on the same ice hockey team.

But the MPA, which oversees high school sports, rejected the request because the combined enrollment of the schools is larger than the state’s largest high school, Morse said.

Rogers said there were about a half a dozen returning players on the Deering girls’ hockey team, two of whom are now playing on the boys’ teams. Eliminating the girls’ team saved the district $20,000, he said.

Portland High will continue to have a girls’ hockey team, the memo said, while assistant hockey coaches at both high schools were also eliminated, saving nearly $7,000.

Meanwhile, freshman math teams at both schools were also eliminated, saving more than $4,800. Freshman are allowed to participate on each school’s regular math team, the memo said.

High school intramurals, which included basketball and volleyball, were also eliminated to save nearly $4,000. Students will have to seek out community-based recreation programs, the memo said.

More than $9,500 in savings was achieved by eliminating a swim coach and more than $2,800 was saved by eliminating an assistant coach at each high school. Instead of having separate coaches for boys and girls, each school will have one coach and one assistant coach.

The Portland high literary magazine ($2,400) was eliminated because of lack of interest.

A drama coach was cut, saving more than $2,800; the Portland High mock trail team was cut, saving almost $2,400; an assistant PHS cross-county coach was cut, saving nearly $2,000, and assistant field hockey coaches at Portland and Deering were cut, saving more than $6,900.

Morse said cuts will be reviewed during the next budget process and the district may reinstate some programs, depending on student interest and funding.

“Each one would be reviewed just like the whole co-curricular program,” Morse said. “If we have the numbers, we’d support the programs and if we don’t have the numbers, sometimes we don’t support the programs.”

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or