From Tom Koehler, Chair of the Board of Education: Budget and Bond3/17/2017
Dear PPS Families and Staff:
Spring is approaching and it’s that time of year when we begin building budgets and plans for the next school year.
I spent Monday in Salem with a fellow board member, PPS principals and educators and school districts from across Oregon to advocate for additional resources to support K-12 education and our local schools. The state is facing a shortfall of approximately $1.7 billion and the budgets proposed for K-12 from the Governor and Legislature are not adequate to maintain current levels of services.
I am optimistic that there may be new state revenue to offset some of the shortfall, but without that commitment we must be prudent as we budget for the 2017-18 school year. That means building in maximum flexibility and establishing an adequate reserve so we can address some of the uncertainties that remain from various state mandates, ongoing negotiations for teacher salaries, and growing PERS costs.
The PPS Board received our first briefing on staffing options for the 2017-18 school year earlier this week. Unless the state can reach a current service level budget of $8.4 billion, PPS - along with other districts - will need to make reductions in school positions. These reductions are difficult, but our goal is to maintain the smallest ratio of teacher-to-students among similar districts.
We are holding in reserve approximately 60 positions in order to address various school needs as we work with principals on programs for next year with a commitment to education equity, academic excellence and student health and safety.
The central administration will also face significant cuts. The budget development process for central operations and school support is underway and will be presented to the Board in the coming weeks, with an eye toward creating efficiencies and making cuts that have the least impact on health and safety, as well as school support.
We have also put forth a Health, Safety and Modernization Bond that will address unsafe school conditions across the district and take the next steps to fully modernize school sites over the next few decades across PPS. Everyone will have an opportunity to vote on our improvement Bond on May 16th.
These two priorities will proceed at the same time as we balance the protection of classroom instruction, while providing adequate support for the maintenance of our facilities to ensure we are providing access to safe and equitable learning environments for all of our students.
We will keep you informed about the process and opportunities for community engagement and feedback as we prioritize our resources for the next school year.
Thank you for your support of PPS.
Chair, PPS Board of Education