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PPS hopes proposed budget spares teachers; Kitzhaber coming to town for talk

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JIM CLARK - Gov. John Kitzhaber will join the Portland School Board Monday, March 18, for a town hall meeting on education funding and other issues.Portland Public Schools could avoid cutting $8 million in the next two years if the Legislature approves the latest education budget as proposed by lawmakers March 4.

State Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, and Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, proposed $6.55 billion for K-12 spending, plus proposed savings in the public employee retirement system that would save school districts about $200 million during the next two years.

Proposed revenue includes potential changes in state tax deductions.

In Portland, such cost reductions would save about $8 million next year, equal to 80 teachers. PPS has made deep cuts four years in a row.

Superintendent Carole Smith said in her budget message: “That is the difference between holding the line and making targeted investments that benefit Portland students — or another two years of further cuts and fewer programs for our students and schools.”

Smith plans to release her budget proposal for the coming school year on April 15.

She's already indicated her top three priorities in crafting her budget: to focus on strategies that are helping to improve student achievement as measured by the PPS Milestones framework and the school district's achievement compacts wth Oregon; to invest any available funds through increases or savings in targeted strategies to accelerate student achievement gains; and to keep a focus on equity during the budgeting decisions.

Three meetings and a survey

On Monday, March 18, the Portland School Board will host a town hall on education with Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The event is set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Madison High School, 2735 N.E. 82nd Ave., and viewed on Comcast Channel 28 or online at the PPS live stream.

Questions for the governor can be submitted in advance or during the town hall through the PPS Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pps.homepage.

Smith is inviting public input on budget priorities at two upcoming listening sessions:

• 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 20, in the Lincoln High School cafeteria, 1600 S.W. Salmon St.

• 6 p.m., Thursday, March 21, in the Grant High School cafeteria, 2245 N.E. 36th Ave.

PPS is also taking feedback via an online survey through March 23:

ppsk12.us.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3KPTAQUjfpiLL6t