Portland schools weigh cuts to special ed

Portland schools weigh cuts to special ed

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by Randy Neves, KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on July 21, 2010 at 8:53 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Public Schools are facing between $13 million and $19 million in budget cuts, depending on federal emergency relief.
That relief would give Portland Schools the ability to spare physical education classes from cuts.
Special education programs, however, were still on the cut list.
That's frustrating for Southeast Portland's Holland family. Their 11-year-old son, Daniel, is a special-needs kid who attends class with mainstream students at his school but he requires a teaching aide to help him with math and reading.
If the district goes through with reducing those teaching aides, Daniel's father said he believes that lack of attention for his son in school would harm his educational progress.
"The educational impact to my son, Daniel, would be pretty severe and I think, at the end of the day, they are there to learn. So to me, its priorities," he said.
The School District said there were no more easy cuts to make and class sizes will, unfortunately, increase for all students with these pending layoffs.
"When you're facing a budget shortfall as significant as this, really, the only way you move the needle is by reducing the number of people you have serving kids," said PPS spokesman Matt Shelby.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D) said that Congress was nearing a decision on a $10 billion dollar bailout for the nation's schools.
He said the deal wasn't sealed yet and he hopes constituents will continue to put pressure on their leaders to encourage the passage of the emergency spending measure.
PPPS officials also hope Congress acts quickly. If funding isn't promised by the time the school budget is ratified in August, Shelby said that federal relief would slide to the following school year, resulting in the maximum projected number of layoffs for the upcoming school year.

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