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PPS has a few good things to celebrate

City funding deal helps ease woes, but bond election looms

Portland Public Schools is wrapping up its school year on a bittersweet note.

While the district bids farewell to many teachers and administrators who were laid off for next year, PPS leaders are still breathing a sigh of relief that the City Council approved its part of the $10 million deal that staved off another 110 teaching position cuts.

School funding advocates are anxious to lobby for long-term reform measures in the coming year.

On Monday night, the school board finally gave its official green light to referring a construction bond measure on the November ballot, with a proposal to be considered at their June 18 and June 25 meetings. A public hearing may be set July 9 before the board votes. Bond supporters have just four months to campaign for the measure.

As June kicked off, PPS celebrated the graduation of 2,400 high school seniors. Graduation and drop-out rates continue to be a major focus for the city and district. Last month, PPS announced that its graduation rate was higher than the Oregon Department of Education had originally reported in January. PPS had petitioned the state for data that wasn't included.

The four-year graduation rate for 2010-11 is now 62 percent (not 59 percent), up 7 percentage points from the previous year.

School buildings continue in various states of disrepair, but at least two communities will see some renovations. A $20,000 Nike Employee Grant will revitalize the playground at Vernon School, and the fire-damaged Marysville School finally broke ground on its reconstruction and is set to reopen in January.