In a close race, Portland residents voted against Charter Commission Question 5, which would have given the city’s school board autonomy to set its budget.
18,139 (57.6 percent) of voters were against the measure, with 13,341 (42.4 percent) voting in favor of it.
The question would’ve allowed the school board to propose its desired budget to voters without the approval of the city council. As it stands, the council will still have the ability to support the budget as is, or deny it and send it back to the board for further review.
Proponents of the question argued that the Portland Charter amendment would empower the school board and allow them more flexibility to support the schools.
Those against the question had raised concerns about higher tax increases with potentially higher school budgets that could come without oversight from the council. Many argued that the council’s role in reviewing the school budget is a form of necessary checks and balances between both entities.
The referendum still would have included collaboration between the school board and the city on the school budget, but the city would have taken up an advisory role rather than have a final say.
This calendar year’s school budget was first denied by the city, with their Finance Committee initially requesting that the board reduce their proposed budget by $1 million. Eventually, the councilors relented, voting 6-2 to support the budget as it was initially proposed.