Portland Public Schools expects to see 3,400 students leave by next school year

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 11:02 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Next year, Portland Public Schools said they’re going to see a big dip in enrollment, which they said is on par with the rest of the state and country.

They expect the biggest drop in enrollment will be in elementary schools at 20%.

PPS said because of that decline, there’s a potential for less state funding, and they expect they’ll need to make staff cuts.

“It’s disappointing,” PPS parent, Donna Ingram, said.

“State funding is not down. Portland Public Schools is going to have more funding next year than we’ve ever had,” Portland Association of Teachers President, Elizabeth Thiel, said.

While PPS said they’re maintaining 40 positions and more than 30 social workers with one-time federal funding, right now they expect they’ll make 105 staff cuts for the 2022-2023 school year. That includes 65 K through 5 homeroom teachers and 45 middle school teachers. They said they plan to add 5.3 teacher positions, but these numbers could change.

They said that federal funding comes from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and the Student Investment Account, which is part of the State’s Student Success Act bill.

With this money, they hope to limit the impact of student enrollment declines, make progress in class sizes and maintain access to arts education.

PPS said they expect to add more than 10 art teachers, but Ingram said they’ve already been told her children’s art class will be every other week now, rather than every week.

“We wouldn’t have an art teacher here enough to support art class for everyone every week,” she said. “If I’m paying the art tax, does the art tax guarantee my kids will get art?”

Thiel said with those 105 cuts, class sizes would also be high and impact students’ education.

“What that means is a school that maybe had three sections of kindergarten, they’re going to have two sections of kindergarten,” she said. “If we have lower enrollment in our schools and the opportunity to have kindergartens with 22 students instead of 29, our students need that opportunity.”

Ingram has already stepped up to volunteer at Rieke Elementary School and is worried about what this will mean for her kids next year.

“I volunteer at lunch and there’s more volunteers than staff,” she said. “Students want interaction. They want someone to come up and say ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ Or even the most silly interaction, like ‘Look how beautiful that drawing is.’ They want people who are there consistently and having the staff to be there and support the teachers, to be their best selves, is the most important thing. So, it’s really sad to think our kids will get even less involvement from caring adults. It takes a village to raise kids.”

Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero will present the complete budget for the next school year April 26. The final budget will be adopted by the school board in June.