Hello Cleveland Community,
I am writing to share information with you about the student-led walkout on Friday, April 20 and our 2018-19 staffing.
April 20th Walk Out
Some of our students, although we do not know how many, are planning to walk-out this Friday, April 20th during 1st period at 9:15 a.m. as part of the national movement to voice concerns about gun violence in schools. Our students have been communicative and open about sharing with us their plans for the walkout.
This walkout is different than the one that occurred on March 14th where students and staff stood in silence around the perimeter of our school for 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL. As part of the continuing national movement, Cleveland students have informed me that this walk-out is much different. Students will leave class at 9:15 a.m. and will take a bus, car, or some form of their own transportation to Pure Space PDX on 1315 NW Overton. Students from around PPS will gather there from 11-noon for a “Teach In” where various youth activists and speakers will share their perspectives about how to curtail gun violence. At noon, students will lead and participate in a march to the Pioneer Courthouse Square and City Hall areas. I am not clear if students will gather at Pioneer Courthouse Square or City Hall. They may be in both locations.
Portland Public Schools policy permits high school age youth to walk-out and express their civil rights in this way. While we want to support our students, the District has made it clear that if students choose to leave, they will be marked absent from their classes beginning with 2nd period. Even if parents write a note, District policy mandates that this absence will remain unexcused. Our staff will remain on campus and continue to teach and conduct business as usual. We will not accompany students on this walk-out.
Again, I cannot predict how many of our students will participate. Please make some time to talk with your student about what their plans are for April 20th. Please let me or one of the Vice Principals know if you have any questions. The quickest way to reach me is to call the school and ask to speak with me and/or our principal’s secretary, Michelle Orr.
Our primary concern always is to keep students safe. In this instance, once a student leaves our campus, we cannot be responsible for their safety as they travel and move around the city. AND, I am hopeful after speaking with several CHS students that this will be a positive experience for them.
Staffing at CHS in 2018-19
Prior to Spring Break, I was working diligently with my administrative team and building teacher leaders to make staffing decisions after we were notified that we had to face a 6.23 FTE (full time employment) reduction. If you are not familiar with school FTE, essentially, 1.0 FTE is funding/staffing to employ 1 full-time teacher. To reduce our staff by 6.23 FTE is significant. This news came to me in mid-March and was a huge surprise to me to say the least. My understanding of the reasons for this reduction are two:
1) Our projected enrollment for Cleveland is down by approximately 70 students for 2018-19.
2) The new superintendent changed the staffing formula for high schools to be aligned with K-8 schools. This shift in the staffing formula provides additional funding to schools where equity issues are more significant. The formula to receive “Equity FTE” for the 2018-19 school year requires that our school have more than 15% of its population qualifying for the free-and-reduced lunch program AND 40% of our student body must be considered historically underserved.
Unfortunately, Cleveland does not meet either of these thresholds, and, as a result I was tasked with reducing our staff by 6.23 FTE.
My approach in this difficult work was to absorb retirements and resignations, of which we have a few, and, of course, to follow the PAT contract which has clear guidelines based upon seniority (number of years taught) when “unassigning” teachers from Cleveland. After a couple of weeks of intense focus, conversation, and collaboration with my administrative team, I made reductions just prior to Spring Break. All school departments and our support staff experienced reductions. The departments most affected are PE, Art, and CTE.
I have heard from many community members about an amazing program at Cleveland known as Cross-Fit. I want to reassure you we are not cutting the CrossFit class! The teacher who currently teaches Cross-Fit is “unassigned” due to our staffing reductions and the PAT contract to “unassign” least senior teachers. Again, we will still offer Cross-Fit at Cleveland and the class will be taught by another PE teacher.
We also had to reduce our Theater Arts program by .5 FTE, meaning that next year’s Theater Arts teacher will be half-time. In CTE, our Business-Marketing teacher is retiring, and we will not continue that program in 2018-19. We also reduced our Culinary Arts program by .5 FTE. CTE had the most significant reduction of one full (1.0) FTE. These were very difficult decisions and my hope is that in coming years, there will the opportunity to increase our FTE for Theater Arts, PE, and CTE.
There is some good news in all of this. With the generous support of YOU, our Foundation, in partnership with our PTA, we have 1.0 FTE that we were able to put towards staffing in our building. That 1.0 FTE went towards our World Language department (.5 FTE) and our CTE Department (.5 FTE). Also, voters have provided funding to high schools through ballot Measure 98. Measure 98 funding requires that we have a laser-like focus upon college-credit courses, such as IB, 9th grade transitions, and CTE. With this in mind, our IB Program at Cleveland continues to be robust. We are moving forward with IB for ALL at the 11th grade level where all 11th graders will take IB History of the Americas and IB Language and Literature SL or Literature HL. Students who need literacy support will receive additional instruction from teachers. Our Cleveland High School Class of 2018 currently has 54 12th graders who are full IB Diploma candidates, and the Class of 2019 is projected to graduate 96 IB Diploma candidates, which is extraordinary. Our 9th Grade Academies will remain in place and Measure 98 funds allow us to provide more collaboration time for those teachers as well as support in the form of Instructional (teacher) leadership and mentoring. Finally, we are maintaining outstanding CTE Programs of Study, and we are maintaining a four-year Computer Science program as well as Culinary Arts and Construction.
Now, more than ever, please consider contributing to our school Foundation. You can donate here: https://www.isupportchs.org/
Our school PTA organized a school-wide Auction in March, which was very successful for both the Foundation and the PTA. Please consider becoming a member of the PTA if you have not already. The PTA Auction Committee is looking for parents to begin organizing next year’s Auction. You can find more information about our PTA here: https://www.pps.net/Page/6727
Thank you for making time to read this lengthy email.
Ayesha C. Freeman
Cleveland High School
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