PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Portland Public Schools revealed more information on how it hopes to close the $12 million hole in its budget for the 2020-21 school year, including cutting about 23 classroom teaching and 13 elementary physical education teaching jobs.
The proposed cuts also would slice $1.4 million out of the budget for vice principals in the schools, in addition to the $2.3 million for classroom teachers and $1.3 million elementary PE teachers.
The proposed cuts also take aim at the central administrative offices, trimming $7 million from those operations.
In a public budget forum Monday night, June 8, administrators disclosed more details on the proposed budget for the district and listened to 14 community members give testimony.
Board member Michelle DePass said that, despite the cuts, “what we have left is a budget that reflects our commitment to racial justice.”
Prior to the economic devastation caused by restrictions designed to tamp down the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across the state were expecting more abundant funding than they had seen for years, due to new revenue sources and a booming economy.
As director Rita Moore said the district and schools were “not able to have the party we all wanted to have.”
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The proposed $7 million in central office cuts include $200,000 from the superintendent’s office, $2.1 million from the business, finance and operations department, $4 million from the instruction and school communities department, $200,000 from legal and risk management and $500,000 from external relations.
The state’s largest school district, with 82 schools, employs about 3,700 teachers, about 2,100 “classified” staff, which includes educational assistants, secretaries and other workers and 175 licensed administrators.
Several board members expressed concern over the proposed cuts to PE teachers and Jenny Withycombe, the district’s program administrator for health and physical education, decried the 17% cut in PE teaching staff in schools.
The district had already cut costs, furloughing staff every Friday from May to the end of July, saving about $10 million to be pushed ahead to the 2020-21 school year to ease the crunch.
PPS also made other cuts including freezing purchases, banning travel and instituting a hiring freeze which should save about $8.9 million for the 2020-21 school year.
The school board will discuss the proposed budget at a virtual meeting on Thursday, June 11, and will adopt it at another virtual meeting Tuesday, June 23.
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