Petition for PK8 funding gap

10:21 pm

In April, the PPS PK8 Action Team presented a lengthy list of unfunded operational needs for the ongoing PK8 transition.* These needs range from critical educational resources like age-appropriate library materials and staff and computer labs, to basic facilities infrastructure like age-appropriate rest rooms and classroom furniture.

If left unfunded, PPS will embark on the third year of the PK8 transition without a commitment to minimally adequate funding, and a full cycle of middle schoolers will have been short-changed.

Parents, teachers and community members from all over Portland have expressed concern for our middle school students. The district, having embarked on this transition, has a moral and ethical responsibility to fully commit to basic operational funding.

Several ideas for filling this gap have been floated with the district, including:

  • Cap administrative wages for one year. (All non-represented district level and principals etc.) Savings: $1.18 million
  • Reallocate Non-Instructional Personal Professional Services Fund. Savings up to $3.63 million.
  • Reallocate to spend Internal Services Contingency Fund. Savings up to $3 million.
  • Local option levy
  • Postpone curriculum adoption
  • spend more of the levy this year
  • Spend from the reserve.

These suggestions have been met with varying degrees of coolness from district administration, the budget office and school board members. But the fact remains that we have money in the budget that could be moved on a one-time, emergency basis to cover this critical gap.

Please join me in signing a petition (download and print a hard copy [111KB PDF], or sign electronically online) with the following wording:

  • Petition summary and background: Portland Public Schools (PPS) middle school students in PK-8 schools are facing their third year of critical operational budget shortfalls. PPS has committed to providing science labs and algebra for all students for 2008-09, but still has a budget gap of more than a million dollars to provide age-appropriate libraries, computer labs, and basic facilities support for our adolescent students.
  • Action petitioned for: We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our Portland Public Schools leaders to act now to fully and immediately fund the critical operational budget shortfall for the PK-8 transition. This should include age-appropriate library materials and staff, restroom facilities, computer labs, white boards, and furniture for all students in grades 6-8, regardless of the type of location of their school.

Phone calls, e-mails and letters to school board members and the superintendent’s office, as well as citizen testimony at school board meetings are always helpful, too.

Update, May 27, 4:50 pm: By popular demand, the petition is now available online as well as the hard copy linked above.

Update, May 30, 7:30 am: Some of the critical issues on this petition have been addressed, but library staffing remains critical. Nearly a third of our PK8 schools — eight of 30 — have no budget for library staff for 2008-09.

*Unfortunately, the list of unfunded operational needs was incomplete (not all schools have been inventoried), and items were not categorized as ongoing or one-time. A more rigorous, detailed accounting of the gap was requested in mid-May, but has not yet been produced. With current information from the district, it is impossible to know the full extent of the funding gap. Estimates of the gap range from $2 million to $6 million.

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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, K-8 Transistion, Program cuts

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