Portland/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 23, 2024
Portland Public Schools Faces $30M Shortfall, Plans to Cut 250 Jobs in Budget ProposalSource: Google Street View

Portland Public Schools (PPS), Oregon's largest school district, is making headlines as it enters its budget planning phase grappling with a $30 million shortfall and plans to slash approximately 250 jobs across the board. The interim Superintendent Sandy Husk has outlined a nearly $2.4 billion budget proposal for the 2024-25 academic year, which was presented to the school board on Wednesday evening. The proposed budget includes bond funds and other revenue streams that are difficult to adjust but is vital for managing school operations for roughly 44,500 students in over 80 schools and programs, OPB reports.

Despite the increase in state funding, the schools are seeing less financial support from federal sources and are faced with the challenge of balancing a budget that still falls short due to climbing operational costs. The expenditures for day-to-day district operations are pegged at about $1 billion according to the draft budget, which represents a $600,000 uptick from the previous year, an amount officials deem insufficient to keep up with escalating expenses, per OPB.

Husk, in a hopeful tone, addressed the community stating, "We care about your students, we care about our families, we care about our employees. Let's work on this and get through it together — this is going to be a tough season for moving forward and it's already been a very challenging year," as noted in her statement to KGW. The impending staff cuts will be evenly distributed between the central office and the schools, impacting everyone from top administrators to custodians in a bid to keep student disruption to a minimum.

The detailed budget proposal has triggered concern among staff as it points to the elimination of about 90 full-time licensed positions such as teachers, counselors, and some support roles. In a controversial move, the budget also targets significant reductions in classified personnel, including positions for educational assistants and maintenance workers, while bolstering licensed staff for special needs programs by about 59 positions. This strategic chop and change will result in PPS's workforce shrinking from 6,246 to 5,995, a net decrease of 251 full-time positions, KGW has learned.

"I hope we can have a productive, respectful discussion about whether this proposal is the best way to balance our budget," Husk conveyed in a statement that accompanied the proposal, urging the community to delve into the budget document for a comprehensive understanding of the rationale behind the decisions. The district aims to finalize the budget after public scrutiny at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday night, with the goal of approving a refined version within the next month.