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City Finance Committee Endorses School Budget

At its meeting on April 25, the City Council's Finance Committee voted to recommend to the full City Council the FY25 school budget that the Board of Public Education approved on April 9.

This year, for the first time, the fiscal year 2025 school budget was presented in a more comprehensive manner, with all revenues and expenses presented, not just those in the local budget.

Compared to the total overall FY24 budget of approximately $163.1 million, the FY25 budget is $161.4 million, a reduction of about $1.7 million. The FY24 budget consists of a local budget of $144 million and $19 million in non-local funds. The FY25 budget consists of $154 million in the local part of the budget, with $7 million in other funds.

The City’s Finance Committee voted on April 25 on the local part of the budget. The two members of the Committee present at the meeting, District 1 Councilor Anna Trevorrow, chair of the committee, and at-large Councilor April Fournier, praised the budgeting process used this year and said they support the school budget.

The FY25 budget is a zero-based budget. The district did not roll forward its previous budget. Instead, the budget was started with zero and a new budget was built, looking at both staff and non-personnel and ensuring that they align to the district's emerging strategic plan.

Fournier said, “We really heard both from the community and from those working in the schools, the need to be really fiscally responsible but also meet the needs of teachers and students and staff in the schools.” She said she is grateful for the “thoughtful budget” the Board has brought forward to do that.

Trevorrow said, “I certainly believe that education is one of the greatest and most valuable investments we can make that pays off for our whole society.”

Watch the April 25 meeting on YouTube.

The City Council is slated to hold a first reading and public hearing on the school budget on Monday, May 6. A second reading, public hearing and a City Council vote on the budget will take place Monday, May 20. The Council sets the bottom line of the school budget. After the Council vote, the school budget will go to Portland voters for final approval at the polls on June 11. View budget materials and a calendar HERE.

The FY25 budget builds off a theme of “Centering Students.” It includes strategic funding for increased student mental health, reading support, special education and school climate support at the school level. The FY25 budget also supports increased rigor in the classroom, and maintains funding for athletics, extracurriculars, and class sizes.

It's also mindful of Portland taxpayers in the face of unique fiscal challenges for FY25: the loss of about $9.4 million in federal COVID relief funds and other revenues, relatively flat state funding and increasing expenses. The district started the budget process with an anticipated $19.4 million shortfall. Without any cuts, that shortfall would have necessitated a 17.41% increase in the school portion of the tax rate. However, due to strategic reductions and restructuring, the Board’s budget calls for an increase of 6.6% ($0.49) in the school tax rate. For the owner of a $375,000 median-priced home in Portland, this would result in an increase in taxes of $183.75 per year or just over $15 per month.

To address the fiscal challenges, the budget includes sizable reductions. “While necessary, those cuts are painful, and we will feel the impact of each one of them,” Board Chair Sarah Lentz said in her budget memo to the City Council.

However, she said, the budget truly is a “a community effort,” with members of the community, PPS staff, the Board and Council finance committees, as well as the mayor and other councilors, all engaging to help the Board revise and enhance the FY25 budget. The result, she said, is a budget for the 2024-2025 school year “that is as responsive as possible to the needs of our students, staff and families, while also keeping in mind the concerns of taxpayers.”