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Board approves budget adding teachers, prioritizing full high school course loads

May 20, 2013

The Portland School Board approved a $487 million budget for the 2013-14 school year by a vote of 6-0. The budget adds teachers district-wide, prioritizes equity in allocating staff to schools, and allows high school students to take full course loads.

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The approved budget reflects an approximate $21 million increase above the current year’s general fund budget. The increase in funds is based on Oregon K-12 schools receiving the equivalent of the $6.75 billion spending level that state leaders have proposed for the 2013-14 biennium, as well as continued growth in enrollment for the school district.

The approved budget maintains the school district’s 4 percent level of reserves (more than $18 million for 2013-14).

Adds 65 school staff, supports full high school course load

Under the approved budget, the school district’s investment in instruction will increase nearly 9 percent, including a $3.9 million increase for high schools above the current year.

  • The approved budget represents a net increase of 65 school staff that will be funded by the school district’s general fund next year.
  • It also backfills 110 staff positions supported during the current 2012-13 school year threatened by the expiration of a one-time funding agreement between PPS, the City of Portland and the Portland Association of Teachers.

The approved budget maintains the proposed budget’s 8 percent equity staffing allocation, which was strongly supported by parent and community testimony during budget hearings. The approved budget also maintains proposed staffing for K-5, K-8 and middle schools.

Despite these investments in school staffing, nearly 1 out of 3 PPS schools will see the loss of at least a partial staff position due to $2.5 million in federal funding cuts , school-specific dips in enrollment and the expiration of grants in the 2013-14 school year. 

The approved budget also reflects the superintendent’s revised proposals to:

  • Reallocate resources to add 58 teaching positions into PPS comprehensive and focus high schools, and lift an arbitration-imposed prohibition on most students taking a full load of 8 classes.
  • Add $50,000 to the transportation budget to account for PPS’ share of the continuation of the Youth Pass program (from $950,000 in the current year to $1 million in 2013-14).
  • Redirect originally proposed strategic investments in online learning and peer mentors/coaches, as well as operations and central support to support enhanced high school staffing.

“This is still a scarce resources budget," said Superintendent Carole Smith. "Yet, our community came together to support our equity investments and we worked with parents to offer full course loads for high school students. I am pleased that so many people partnered with us in this budget process.” 

Budget allows for implementation of arts tax agreement

The approved budget also gives PPS the authority to implement last week’s agreement with the City of Portland to backstop a total of $3 million in funding for 30 arts positions in K-5 and K-8 schools next academic year, while legal challenges to the City’s arts tax are pending. The 30 positions will ensure that there is at least a half-time art teacher in all schools serving students in grades K-5.

The approved budget does not formally spell out that contingency agreement. Instead, the proposed budget authorizes the school district to spend the full $4.5 million in City arts tax revenue that PPS would receive if the tax is upheld.

The approved budget includes over $18 million in uncommitted reserves, which is sufficient to support the $1.5 million in school district has committed as PPS’ share of the agreement with the City in the event that the City’s arts tax is not upheld in the courts.


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