"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cuts Coming to Portland (OR) Schools

From Carole Smith, Superintendent of the Portland Public Schools (OR):

Central support and operations: $3.1 million
PPS central services and operations — including administration, finance and payroll, transportation, building maintenance and more — will cut spending on materials and services, as well as reduce staff by the equivalent of 25 full-time positions (or FTE).

Special education and English as a Second Language: $4.6 million
Reductions to these services, staffed centrally but touching all schools and programs, include elimination of the equivalent of 52 full-time teaching positions through shifts in staffing assignments and a delay of program enhancements.

School staffing: $11.6 million
This cut will eliminate the equivalent of 126 teaching positions in PPS schools — further reducing already lean school staffing.

To ensure all students have access to the same core educational program, PPS will provide specific direction on what schools should cut. For grades K-8, the district will take a uniform cut to a common program so that all schools face the same challenges. For example, all schools would cut PE or enrichments and library staffing to maintain greater equity and more consistent programs across schools. The loss of PE instruction by specialists could be mitigated by having classroom teachers lead students in physical activity, or through other strategies. The approach will not be decided and acted upon until the school board provides clear direction. High school staffing also will suffer substantial cuts and significant increases in class sizes, particularly in core classes.

Cuts to the English as a Second Language department are particularly concerning given the district's long history of inadequate service for these students.

It will also be interesting to see if schools in wealthier communities raise funds to mitigate these cuts. PPS - like many other districts - allows parents to privately fundraise for their child's school, and it doesn't take a genius to see how this allows more affluent schools to beef up programming while low-income schools are stuck with the bare bones "core" program.

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