“Equity” Budget = Cuts to Poor Schools

7:59 am

Now that we’re supposedly examining every policy move through the “lens of equity,” you might expect there to be some changes to the FTE formula to help out the schools that have suffered dramatic program cuts under the radical PPS student transfer policy and a decade of failed market-based experiments.

But if you expected that, you’d be sorely disappointed.

Reports are trickling in from all around the district of real and effective cuts in FTE budget, even as schools are faced with new mandates to offer more “enrichment.” At Madison High, they are facing a cut of 2 FTE positions, even as they add eighth grade. This adds up to an effective cut of 3-4 FTE positions for 9-12.

At Jefferson, it is rumored that they will be losing upwards of eight FTE positions, with more positions shifted away from the (supposedly) merging 9-12 school to the gender-segregated academies.

At Peninsula Elementary, they’re getting an addtional 1.27 FTE positions. But one of those is used up for the “enrichment” requirement, and they’re also adding eighth grade. Adding a middle school grade with .27 FTE is tricky, to put it in the most charitable light.

Now comes word, from a parent e-mail list, that Ockley Green is losing nine positions next year:

Those positions include the Vice Principal, the Disciplinarian, one secretary, one physical education teacher, 2 educational assistant positions, 2 retiring teacher positions not being filled, 1/2 of the counselor and 1/2 of the librarian’s position.

A true focus on equity would assure that the real cost of open transfers would no longer be shifted in terms of reduced opportunities onto students who chose not to (or are unable to) transfer. The district, if they intend to keep the transfer policy in place, needs to bear its full cost and quit cutting programs in our poorest schools.

PPS needs to step up and define, implement, and guarantee a comprehensive educational experience for all students in every neighborhood of Portland. Then we can talk about equity. Until then, it’s just an empty buzz word.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Equity, Transfer Policy

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One Response

  1. Comment from NMLeggett:

    It’s just lip service till we trim the upper level fat to fix this. My early research shows that PPS spends almost 10% less of our budget for actually intruction then other district in Multnomah county.
    Nicole Leggett