PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The president of the Portland Association of Teachers is voicing her frustration over the reduction in teacher positions listed in the latest Portland Public School budget proposal.
In its latest budget proposal for the 2022-2023 school year, PPS said it will cut nearly 90 “teaching positions” but no layoffs for teachers were coming.
In February, there were demonstrations because of possible teacher layoffs. The district originally thought it would have to cut 174 teaching positions. PPS recently announced, however, that it had secured $118 in new spending and would not lay off any teachers, but 88 “teaching positions” were still on the chopping block, lost through attrition or retirement, according to district officials.
Those reductions are all at the elementary and middle school level.
Administrators say because of the 8% decline in student enrollment though, they’re lowering the number of teachers by 3%.
“If you’re not responsible, it could make for a pretty precarious next budget season — that’s the balance we’re trying to reach here while keeping our students at the center,” said PPS Superintendent Guadelupe Guerrero.
While Guerrero said they’re keeping the average class sizes low, President Elizabeth Thiel of the Portland Association of Teachers says those averages are swaying the true numbers.
“At [Harriet] Tubman [Middle School], which is in crisis right now, their seventh graders are going to be in class sizes of 32 in their neighborhood program,” Thiel said. “In the same building focus option, seventh graders will have a class size of nine. And so the average is much lower, but the experience for the vast majority of the kids is going be in those large class sizes.”
Thiel said there are some great class sizes throughout — but that she wants to point out problem spots she says the district needs to address.
“Enrollment has never fluctuated in the way that we’ve seen coming in and out of this pandemic so we are holding on to a small reserve of positions,” Guerrero said. “So as we monitor the class sizes, where it makes sense we want to make sure those remain as optimal or as close to school size max goal as possible.”
The superintendent says they’re doing the best they can with the projections they have. Read more details about the 2022-2023 budget, here.
The PPS school board will host a public engagement session on Wednesday, May 4 to hear community input on the budget proposal. The board will also consider public comments submitted via Let’s Talk.