July 19th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

Portland School Board Asks for Clarity on Central-Office Cuts

School Board July 19

The Portland School Board tonight gave the go-ahead to Superintendent Carole Smith to cut $13 million, not $19 million, from the 2010-11 school year's budget, trusting that federal lawmakers will make up the difference.

But a few School Board members, notably Martín González, pushed back on the superintendent for not offering many details on her proposed cuts to the district's central office -- cuts that make up about $3 million of the $13 million in reductions currently on the table. González specifically called out the district's communications department as a source of possible cuts. "It's more important for us to be supporting schools," González said.

Trudy Sargent (re-elected tonight as chairwoman, along with first-timer Pam Knowles) asked for a meeting of the board's subcomittee on finances to talk about the proposed central-office cuts. She said she wanted to bring transparency to the as-of-now murky process.

Smith offered few details about the central-office cuts tonight, but she did say she would not fill one vacant position for a deputy superintendent. (There are currently four deputy superintendents.) She also said the administrative cuts would come largely from the district's human resources, technology and communications departments. During public testimony, a librarian revealed the district also apparently plans to scale back its central-office support for school libraries -- from five employees to one.
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