Most teachers safe in approved 2017-18 PPS budget

Board members passed budget while facing $18 million deficit

PPS board members approved a $117.3 million budget for the 2017-18 school year, June 13, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Public Schools approved a $117.3 million budget for the 2017-18 school year Tuesday, and although many were expecting mass teacher layoffs, cuts were instead made elsewhere.

The school board expected a $14 million budget deficit, which it described as a “worst case scenario”. Superintendent Bob McKean previously called it a “budget of difficult choices.” But on Tuesday night, district leaders revealed the deficit was even bigger at about $18 million.

The same night, many credited the school board with getting creative to make sure dozens of teachers didn’t receive pink slips in the face of such massive cuts.

Interim PPS Superintendent Bob McKean, Jan. 26, 2017 (KOIN)
Interim PPS Superintendent Bob McKean, Jan. 26, 2017 (KOIN)

“We didn’t do across the board budget cuts,” McKean said. “We tried to be very strategic relative to that.”

Fewer than 3 full-time teachers are expected to be laid off, as opposed to the 70 or so that some were expecting.

“There was a period where there was looking to be reductions in PE., library services and counselors, but those areas have been restored,” PPS spokesman Dave Northfield said.

Still, the cuts will be felt at PPS headquarters. Although 50 people will be let go at the district’s central office, there will also be 37 key positions added that board members say are necessary to make some much-needed repairs at aging schools.

Two others somewhere in the department will also be let go for a total of 11 layoffs as part of the approved budget deal. But none of those people will be teachers.

“Most of the cuts are coming in the area of finance, IT, operations,” Northfield said. “Really, the effort was to minimize the effect on the classroom.”

The reason for PPS’ budget shortfall comes down to the state legislature allocating only about $8.1 billion towards public education instead of $8.4 billion.