Parks & Rec preschool programs face budget ax

Budget process continues for about 2 more months

Preschool pals in Portland, April 18, 2017 (KOIN)
Preschool pals in Portland, April 18, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A dozen preschool programs run by Portland Parks & Recreation could be shut down if proposed budget cuts go through. But parents are ready to make their voices heard at community meetings, including one Tuesday night at Mount Scott Community Center.

The city’s pre-school programs serve about 600 students between 2- and 5-years-old each year. Parents say these programs are actually affordable.

Portland budget timeline and events

Portland Parks & Rec budget proposal

Letter from Parks & Rec director

Erika Wixon, who is a stay-at-home mom, has a 4-year-old who goes to a preschool program at Mount Scott in Southeast Portland. She and her teacher-husband pay about $150 per month, which is something they are able to make work in their budget.

“The preschool teacher here is amazing. My kids just absolutely adore her. She’s like a household name,” Wixon told KOIN 6 News. “We’ve just benefitted so much. The thing that we would struggle with was the finances, but this was the most affordable. It fit into our budget, so it was like a blessing.”

Inside a preschool classroom (KOIN, file)
Inside a preschool classroom (KOIN, file)

A spokesperson for Portland Parks & Rec told KOIN 6 News they don’t want to cut the preschool program — or anything else. However, Mayor Ted Wheeler required city bureaus to prepare a requested budget with 5% in cuts.

For the parks department, that means cutting about $3 million. As part of that, cutting the preschool program would save about $686,000.

This is only a proposal. There is still about 2 months to to in the budget process.