Welcome to a new school year!

Welcome to a new school year!  We hope that school is off to a great start for you and your family. This is a promising and pivotal year for schools in Portland.  We want to tell you about some of the many hopeful changes affecting your school and others in PPS.

We also want to encourage you to stay informed about some important priorities for our schools this year. We hope you will share your input.

More staff in schools

We start the new school year with a better budget picture than we have had in years. We have added 71 staff positions in our schools, thanks to increased state funding and the City Arts Tax.

That improved funding is allowing us to make targeted investments and restorations in programs to help students reach or exceed our Milestone targets. This year, among other efforts, we are:

  • Expanding our Early Kindergarten Transition program.
  • Offering all high school students the opportunity to take a full load of 8 courses.
  • Keeping more students connected to school, so every student can complete high school ready to contribute to our community.
  • Providing art instruction to all elementary grade students, with funds from the City Arts Tax.

School Improvement Bond projects are on schedule and on budget

Last year, voters approved the 8-year school improvement bond, which will fix leaking roofs, strengthen schools against earthquakes and make access upgrades at 67 schools in PPS. It will also modernize Grant, Franklin and Roosevelt high schools and Faubion PK-8

This summer, we completed the first major bond work:  replacing roofs and making seismic safety improvements at six schools on schedule and on budget, in time for the start of school.

Community input on the School Improvement Bond has just begun. We hope you will attend an upcoming community design workshops, where students, parents and community members can inform plans to rebuild Franklin and Roosevelt high schools and Faubion PK-8.

A transformative moment for Portland’s schools

These are important and encouraging signs for schools in Portland. After years of state funding cuts and students and teachers working in outdated buildings, we are beginning to take transformative steps to offer more academic and enrichment programs for students, in safer and more up-to-date schools.

At the same time, we recognize that we need to accelerate our efforts to make sure every student can meet high academic standards, regardless of race, income, or zip code.

This year, we are focused on these key priorities:

  • Continuing to raise graduation rates and narrow the achievement gap.
  • Continuing to improve school funding.
  • Keeping the School Improvement Bond on-time and on-budget, informed and inspired by on-going community input.
  • Sustaining our commitment to equity to ensure that all students succeed.
  • Updating our teachers’ association contract so we can put the best teacher in front of every classroom, expand learning opportunities for students and offer competitive salary and benefits increases to teachers, in line with state funding.

We welcome you to share your priorities and ideas with us at: pubinfo@pps.net, or on Facebook.

We appreciate your support of your students and your schools – whether it is reading to a young learner at home, volunteering in a classroom, donating to the PTA Clothing Closet, mentoring a high school student, or one of the many other ways Portlanders help. We hope you’ll stay informed and involved throughout the school year.

Carole Smith

Greg Belisle
Co-chair, Portland School Board 

Pam Knowles
Co-chair, Portland School Board