August 19th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

All of Portland Public Schools' Cuts...For Now

All attention this week in the Portland education world may be on Katy Wagner-West, the Grant High School choral director bumped out of a job by another music teacher with more seniority.

But the blood-letting at Portland Public Schools goes beyond music teachers, six of whom were let go last week. For months now district leaders have been warning the public of huge staff cuts at the district. So this seems like a good time to take a survey of where PPS is with its budget, which most recently took a $19 million dive owing to decreased state support.

According to Hank Harris, PPS's human resources director, only nine teachers have been laid off as of this week, in part because of attrition and retirements. The biggest blow lands on PPS's non-teaching classified staff, which is losing about 120 people. That includes 60 paraeducators who work with special-education students, 30 bilingual assistants and 30 other assistants and secretaries.

Plus, there's the matter of the "central office" cuts. PPS calls any position that is budgeted centrally a "central office" position. And Superintendent Carole Smith at one point said most of the "central office" cuts would affect the district's communications office. But some of the jobs under the "central-office" umbrella don't report to district headquarters. And some cuts to the communications office listed in the link above weren't jobs the public typically associates with PR. One of those actually reported to a Family Support Center, which offers English-language support and social services to families in need. Five other people in communications--including four who help run the district's TV programs and one who acts as an internal communications assistant--saw their hours reduced slightly.

More cuts for Oregon schools are on the way, says Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who earlier this week acknowledged worsening economic forecasts for the state.

Yet, in another sign of how complicated these matters are, PPS is actually hiring teachers for some in-demand positions in areas like Spanish and language immersion.
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