PPS looks ahead to possible budget, staff cuts

"It's too early to tell if there will be layoffs"

Potential budget cuts were discussed during a PPS board meeting Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At a meeting Tuesday night, Portland Public Schools board members looked at how much money could be off the table for the 2017-18 school year as the state deals with a $1.8 billion deficit.

The school board met the same day state lawmakers heard public testimony to zero-in on strategic cuts and new sources of revenue for education funding.

PPS and other school districts aren’t sure how much of a hit they’ll take. The worst case scenario would be a $14 million deficit. In the best case, they’d break even.

PPS spokesman Dave Northfield said board members don’t have anything to react to yet as far as potential budget cuts go, March 21, 2017. (KOIN)

But school officials made it clear Tuesday night that a loss in state education funding will likely mean layoffs, and not just for teachers. This year, the average high school employed 2-6 counselors. But a deficit could bring that number down even lower.

“We do talk a lot about teachers, and they are obviously critical to student achievement, but what we also need to see is people like counselors who provide important social and emotional intervention,” parent Meeka Kullberg said.

As the district waits for the state to reveal how big the deficit will be, board members are taking a proactive approach by discussing potential problems.

“We want to try to make next year’s school year as best as we can,” parent Kayla Gulbranson said. “Getting to Salem and getting our voices heard down there.”

On Tuesday night, the board presented a loose framework for the 2017-18 budget.

The first official budget proposal is expected on April 4. The board will consider it for approval on May 23 before a hearing. The proposal could be adopted on June 13.

“The community will have an opportunity to weigh in at upcoming board meetings,” PPS spokesperson Dave Northfield told KOIN 6 News.

Northfield said it’s too early for board members to react to anything just yet.