Evergreen Public Schools facing $19 million in budget cuts

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:42 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Dozens of parents packed into the Evergreen Public Schools board meeting tonight to voice their concerns.

It came as Superintendent Jim Boyd presented his proposed budget to the board – outlining $19 million in cuts.

Valerie and Nathan Williams are concerned about their 3rd grader who is making great progress working with reading specialists in the Evergreen School District.

“The specialists really support her and help her and encourage her and make her want to do better,” says Valeria Williams.

The Evergreen School District is looking to cut 140 full-time positions – out of its staff of 4000 – to help make up for a $19 million budget shortfall.

“The Evergreen Athletic Director has helped to send hundreds of minorities on college scholarships to college,” says Paul Penager, an at-risk advocate.

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Parents packed Tuesday night’s school board meeting with the people who couldn’t fit in the meeting room, sitting in the hallway and front lobby. The meeting went for hours with some 60 people signed up to address the school board. Many described the challenges they face – challenges addressed by staff whose positions are proposed for cuts.

“We had an incident at our library where a student threw tables, turned tables, threw chairs, knocked down students,” says Evergreen Public Schools Employee Karen Starr.

The district says declines in enrollment, expiring COVID relief funds and inflation have played a role in the current crisis. Athletic directors, paraeducators, academic interventionists are among the positions proposed for cuts. Parents are hoping the board will reconsider.

“I hope that by taking the time tonight, parents using their voice to advocate for their children, I hope that the board or whoever decides more people will be actively involved,” says Starr.

No final decision was made tonight. The district says it’s trying to make this sizeable budget cut in a way that will least impact students but when you’re talking about $19 million that’s tough to do – and parents and educators say the district is targeting positions that most directly affect kids.