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Portland Public Schools passes $1.89 billion budget, avoiding layoffs for now

Many staff and community members voiced concerns over potential cuts, which were avoided by a budget adjustment. But district leaders warned next year is a concern.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools (PPS) is moving ahead with a $1.89 billion budget, avoiding teacher layoffs in the upcoming school year.

Staff and community members packed the Portland Public Schools boardroom Tuesday evening to voice concerns about potential cuts.

Ultimately, the district was able to regroup with new financial assessments and supplemental state and federal funding to avoid any layoffs. Notably, the newly approved budget avoids cuts to multiple full-time special education positions.

"To match the need," said PPS chief academic officer Dr. Cheryl Proctor. 

RELATED: 'Already hanging on by a thread': Portland parents raise concerns about cuts to special education budget

District superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said some of the additional funding for this year's budget is only temporary. With falling enrollment, next year's budget is already a concern.

"We're going to have to have a hard conversation," he said. "It will be unavoidable to make reductions across our employee groups a year out if new revenue sources are not identified." 

Like other districts across the state, PPS faces a variety of evolving challenges as a result of the pandemic. 

Many students are behind and need extra support, both academically and emotionally, according to the district. Guerrero said some schools will receive more funding to help students with higher levels of need.

RELATED: 'I've seen kids savagely beaten in the hallway': Portland teachers raise concerns about violence in schools

The district also set aside an additional $750,000 to support middle schools.

In light of the deadly mass shooting at a Texas elementary school this week, district leaders offered condolences and emphasized PPS's safety priorities, which include updates to security cameras and classroom locks.

They said violence prevention is another key priority.

"$17 million to provide emotional and mental health and wraparound supports," Guerrero said. "We know that our schools are part of the community."

The district can make final assessments and adjustments to the overall budget before another vote in June.

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