In the news: Other line items PPS could cut

10:22 am

In today’s Willamette Week, Beth Slovic details the “Gravy Trainers,” “Sweet Talkers,” “Real Estate Moguls” and others who seem to be escaping the budget knife, even as the district pushes a budget that would force furlough days on represented employees (without first consulting their unions). Rumor has it that 40 educational aid positions have been cut district-wide.

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

filed under: Budget, Labor Relations, Media

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15 Responses

  1. Comment from Ken:

    Here’s another thing the district is spending money on:

    It’ll cost the district $352,000 over the next three years. The funding comes from the general fund – not from specific grants that are inflexible in terms of spending. The district could have spent this money elsewhere.

  2. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    As an IT professional, I’ve been concerned at the failure of the PPS to manage their data. This is evidenced by their Web sites, and their inability to centrally account for what educational programs are available at what schools.

    I don’t think $352K over three years is an inordinate amount of money to tame this data management beast, but I would like to know if this is paying for something that our Chief Information Officer should already be doing with existing staff.

    In other words, just like with the contractors Beth Slovic is talking about, are we paying outside consultants to do the work that could be done by existing paid staff? (That’s not a rhetorical question; it may very well be a legitimate expense.)

  3. Comment from chbmom:

    I am not sure if this is the place to make this comment if not please redirect…. This coming school year teachers have to work five days … unpaid. My question is do the administrator’s have to do the same? If not why not? A few years ago I was the catering manager at a very upscale deli. About once a month a full scale luncheon would be ordered to the tune of about $22.00 per person. It was to be delivered to Portland Public School’s main office!!! The total bill would be around $400.00 to $500.00 dollars times that by 12… equal’s to about $5,400. It may seem like a small number however, it seems like that money could be spent in a better place.. like a teacher aid one day week. The rumor is Alameda may have up to 37 childern in one class. If I knew my son was going to be in class with 37 kids, I am might as well homeschool him. When is PPS audited and I am sure it would be public information?? Any info on how and where PPS spends there money would be great. Thanks CHBmom

  4. Comment from Stephanie:

    I work for a non-profit and whenever we do trainings and we have snacks and coffee provided we also put down a sign that says our agency paid for the snacks and not the state of Oregon.

    As someone that has been fed by PPS before I can tell you that it has crossed my mind more than once about what they are paying to feed me. Often though homemade foods are part of the mix too. There is a good chance they are feeding volunteers working through a meal hour of some kind at least half the time. To be my own devil’s advocate – I used to work in for profit human services and it was pretty excessive how much food was brought in for meetings and wasted. At the same time they were getting rid of vehicles and cutting staff hours for the residents with disabilities making it impossible for them to leave the house to have any fun for days/weeks on end.

  5. Comment from Matt Shelby:

    chbmom, Just to clarify, the budget the school board approved earlier this month calls for ALL employees to take five unpaid days off in the next budget year. That applies to teachers, principals, administrators, bus drivers, secretaries, etc…

    The various unions PPS employees belong to will need to approve the furlough, but nobody is being asked to work for free.

    Matt Shelby
    PPS Communications

  6. Comment from Susan:


    I’d welcome a little more information about the furlough days. I thought the furlough days would be the non-student days that teachers use to prepare before, during and at the end of the school year. Having witnessed most teachers coming to work a week or more before and staying a week or more after their contract year in order to prepare, I’d have to say that teachers already are working for free and this year they will need to do even more without pay.

    To truly expect that teachers aren’t being asked to work for free would mean that the furlough days would be during regular student days with entirely closed school buildings.

  7. Comment from chbmom:

    Thank you Matt… If they are not “asked’ to work for free then those that do not want to are paid???? My qusetion is this… PPS how and where do you spend your money???? I think it is appropriate to streamline spending right down to the dollar on students. I understand that may take more than the “parent’s eye ” can see.. but $500.00 dollars on a catered event? The time is now to really look at every dollar..Yes people should be paid for there qualfication’s.. however, note that some parents are looking at the fact that 37 children are put into one class, with ONE teacher, no aid and these day’s can’t count on parent volunteers. I want PPS to operate as I do at home.. where can I save money? cut down on paper, bring a brown bag lunch to “important” meeting’s, lick the pen to get the last bit of ink ( instead of sending just out of college data entry person to office max for supplies), tri-met bus passes to get to work ( not leased cars), pay cuts to administrator’s and a raise to teachers.. you know the ones on the front line. Bless the folks who field phone calls from parent’s and PPS teacher’s. Cut budget’s ?? Cut spending!!!…..If I see where all my property tax money is going ($568.00) SE address. Then maybe I can be quite about 37 kids in one class and not worry about $500.00 lunches. Thank you.

  8. Comment from David Colton:

    Beth Slovic’s report failed to mention the consultant hired to bring Madison to a decision that we had aleady made the year before and that was to abandon the small school model and go back to comprehensive. How much for this game in semantics that never got even close to addressing the real problem at Madison; Leadership! We were told that the consultant gleaned from us who the next principal was to be based on our discussions and rehashing of school structure. I want to see how much this guy cost the district. Those of us sitting on the committee got paid our hourly rate as well. Just another Texas two-step…..and now I have found out that another retiring assisitant to the superintendent will be back on special assignment double dipping at a time when many of us had to buy our own paper to finish out the school year. Keep this pipeline open Beth so the public knows what is going on.

  9. Comment from terrified:

    As a teacher, I can tell you that nobody asked me if I agreed to take this furlough. We gave 10 days free awhile back. Balancing the budget on our backs is not going to go over well, especially when we have been trying to negotiate a contract for a year now.Over a year…Our school just added an assistant principal, a librarian, full time art….How is this possible if they are so strapped for cash that they are asking us to cut five days from our pay checks…? Doesn’t make sense…And how much was spent on blackberries this past year…was that a half million dollars…and I didn’t even get one.

  10. Comment from Nancy R.:

    terrified, nobody “needs” a Blackberry, I concur. Was a librarian hired for your school, or a library assistant (clerk who runs the library alone)? (I always have to stick up for the librarians, assistants and textbook clerks, since I am employed as a library assistant.)

    Library assistants and clerks are classified employees, so we only earn half the pay of teachers. (Cheaper to hire, and are generally expected by principals and staff to teach. Which we can do — if we want to go against the terms of our contract and flout the teachers’ union. Which we don’t want to do. Thus the bucking of heads begins.)

    We save money by having libraries staffed — grant money for books doesn’t go unspent, collections are tracked so books don’t walk out the door (thus costing the taxpayers more money, when books need to be replaced). The International Baccalaureate programs require librarians (not clerks). Students who have librarians have a better shot of learning to read, graduating, getting jobs… (…staying out of jail. Literacy is a beautiful thing).

    Many of us write grants to fund our positions and buy books; we also hold book fairs and sell coffee and art as fundraisers. I am hoping that this coming school year with PPS — with a librarian or clerk in every building for the first time in a number of years — that the “real” teachers are not hostile toward us.

    It’s a terrible message to send to kids, when their library is dark, with the door locked.

  11. Comment from terrified:

    Librarian…not assist. And don’t get me wrong…libraries are good…it’s just we have had teacher run library for more than a decade, and now…at this crunch of the budget time, suddenly we have money for all these new positions, while at the same time teachers are being asked to take another cut…By the way, we are the only em[loyees who did not receive a raise this past year, since our contract is still up in the air.

  12. Comment from S. Wilcox:

    Ok, I just received two full color flyers from the district today (since I have two kids!) Can someone tell me why PPS is continuing to spend money on frivolous things (most info in the flyer has been in other, community and city brochures), while saying they are cutting all that they possibly can? I understand this flyer, individually, does not amount to a whole lot, cost-wise, but add it to the blackberries and hotel stays, etc. and well, we all see where this is going. How much more is there?

  13. Comment from John B. Tang:

    Carrie Adams had mentioned that her experience in HR a while back showed that PPS approved the hiring of friends and relatives and they even started even before their background checks were finished. I know for a fact that Zeke Smith, PPS Chief of Staff, hired Pyramid Communications, his friends, to work on high school system redesign. Could anyone please do an investigation into this matter and find out exactly how Pyramid Communications Consulting company was hired, how much they are being paid and what the relationship between them and PPS Chief of Staff. I was also questioning how Zeke Smith, himself, was hired as Chief of Staff, considering his background and lack of educational expertise.

    The community also needs to question the recent reorganization structure. Are we just switching people around based on a few people at the top deciding who they liked the most? Who are these people and what qualifications do they have to make such a major decision for PPS? I can name a few and I believe the process was not very transparent and evidence-based.

    The community also needs to ask questions about the stimulus money which is approximately $12 million. How is this going to be spent and what public input process has been in place to ensure equitable resource allocation? The school board needs information to make informed decision and the public needs to be consulted. At this point, this money seems to be given to one person (Susan Kosmala, Director for Title I) and she intends to hire an assistant Director using the stimulus money) This position is created to help Ms. Kosmala do her job. The public needs to know how this Assistant Director’s position going to be sustainable after it is gone. It needs to know how the district intends to put money into good use. So far, as we discover, the process is not transparent and the money has not always been put in good use.

    We need to hold Ms. Carole Smith and the school board responsible for poor decisions and unfair deicsion making process.

  14. Comment from terrified:

    Good points. Accountability…from the top down…not the bottom up for a change.

  15. Comment from chbmom:

    I read all the comments and I am still curious… Is PPS audited and where do I get the information. I want to know why “Blackberry’s” and did I hear “Hotel” stays are being bought?????? Has any Administrator asked themselves.. ” How does this kind of spending directly benefit the student” Not my friends student, not white students, each and everyone of them. I sense they have lost focus and have forgotten there job is to serve the student body, not themselves or there stomachs on elaborate lunches.