PPS Superintendent Carole Smith shakes it up with latest cut proposals
Jefferson High School may have avoided closure last year, but now three schools in Jefferson's North Portland neighborhood cluster with small enrollments are targeted for consolidation or closure.
In her budget recommendations to the Portland School Board Monday evening, Superintendent Carole Smith announced her surprise proposal to consolidate Humboldt School, 4915 N. Gantenbein Ave., and Boise-Eliot School, 620 N. Fremont Ave.
Humboldt has 240 students and Boise-Eliot 395. Both serve grades preK-8. The schools are a mile apart.
Smith also recommended closing the Young Women's Leadership Academy, located at the old Tubman Middle School at 2231 N. Flint Ave.
The Young Women's Academy enrolls 180 girls in grades 6-12.
Until this year, it has been part of Jefferson High School, the only program to remain from the 2007 Jefferson redesign effort led by former Superintendent Vicki Phillips.
Smith did not offer any other details, such as potential cost savings.
The proposals - to close a $27.5 million budget shortfall - are sure to be met with opposition from at least some in the school community. Emotions ran high last summer when community members fought to save Jefferson from closure.
Smith argues that enrollment at the schools cannot support access to core academic offerings without a subsidy of teaching positions, which the school district can no longer afford.
Smith's other recommendations included at least one other surprise.
She said talks are under way with the Portland Association of Teachers to consider the option of taking furlough days next year to offset cuts to school staffing and avoid increase student-staff ratios in schools. Under the terms of the current contract, the association is not required to come to an agreement about furlough days or a shortened school year.
PPS is among four of 14 area school districts that have not cut school days within the past three years. Discussions with the union are continuing.
Smith's recommendations included:
• Using $7.2 million from the district's reserves
• Cutting $10 million (the equivalent of 110 teaching positions) from schools, which would increase student-teacher ratios (in K-5 schools, from 25:1 to 27:1; in preK and middle schools, from 24:1 students to 26:1; and in high schools, from 29:1 to 31:1).
• Cutting $9.5 million from the central office, including the elimination of 34 positions.
To see Smith's full proposed budget, visit www.pps.k12.or.us .
The school board will hold two public hearings on the proposed budget:
• April 9: at 5 p.m. at Cleveland High School, 3400 S.E. 26th Ave.
• April 11: at 6 p.m. at Roosevelt High School, 6491 N. Central St.