A loss in state education funding could spell layoffs next year for more than a hundred union members who work at Portland Public Schools (PPS).
Interim Superintendent Robert McKean presented his proposed budget to the Portland School Board on April 4. The budget is based on the assumption that the state will not provide enough funding for K-12 schools to cover the district’s current level of services, so cuts likely will be necessary — though nothing is set in stone.
The State of Oregon is facing a $1.7 billion budget shortfall for the next biennium.
Under the superintendent’s proposal, 83 teachers and 59 non-union central office employees are on the chopping block.
More than 200 classified employees remain unassigned for next year, according to Belinda Reagan, president of Portland Federation of School Professionals (PFSP) Local 111. Earlier this year the union was notified that 100 workers could be laid off next year if the state doesn’t allocate more money to the school budget.
“We’re now up to approximately 225 unassigned employees,” Reagan said. “It runs across the board — from school secretaries, library assistants, EAs (education assistants), to instructional techs.”
The superintendent’s budget allocates $4.3 million for custodians and maintenance, with an additional $1 million for new school custodians and maintenance, which would add 12 jobs dedicated to new buildings.
Custodians are represented by Service Employees Local 503, and maintenance department personnel are represented by a dozen union locals under the District Council of Unions (DCU).
With just 84 workers, the maintenance department already is well below industry standards for staffing in relation to the square footage of buildings they are responsible for, said DCU spokesman Pat Christensen, a business rep for Plumbers and Fitters Local 290.
The School Board has scheduled listening sessions to take public comment on how to allocate dollars in the coming year. The first one was held April 11.
The next session is April 25, from 5-6 p.m. at Blanchard Education Service Center, 501 N. Dixon St., Portland. The final session will be held May 9 from 5-6 p.m., also at Blanchard Education Service Center.
The School Board will hold a budget work session May 23, with final adoption expected June 13.,