OUR STUDENTS DESERVE SMALL CLASS SIZES
We need to make next year dramatically BETTER for our students.
Educators have been outspoken about the fact that our students' needs this year dramatically outsize the supports available at our schools.
That is why it is unthinkable that PPS could argue that our schools are currently overstaffed, and that we need to reduce the number of teachers in our schools. Yet, PPS is eliminating 61 elementary teacher positions, and 35 Middle School teacher positions, resulting in larger class sizes in almost all our schools, compared to current levels.
Instead, we are asking PPS to invest in our students by lowering class sizes and increasing supports for students.
HOW TO HELP
Is PPS Really Cutting Teachers?
Yes. PPS has acknowledged that they are eliminating 61 elementary teacher positions, and 35 middle school teacher positions. At least 130 educators have already been “unassigned” from their schools.
In almost every elementary and middle school, class sizes next year are increasing in comparison to this year.
How large will class sizes be?
- Kindergarten classes are projected to be as large as 29.
- First grades classes are projected to be as large as 31
- Second grade classes are projected to be as large as 32.
- Third through 5th grade classes will be as large at 33.
- Every neighborhood middle school program is projected to have class sizes in the 30s.
Class Sizes are likely to be even larger than these projections:
These projections are all assuming that none of the 3500 students who disengaged in the last 2 years of the pandemic are returning. When students DO return to PPS in the fall, we will have more students, but we are unlikely to be able to hire more teachers. Class sizes will be even larger.
We have a chance now to create schools that are staffed to welcome these students back.
I heard enrollment is declining. Doesn’t PPS have to cut teachers?
It is true that enrollment in PPS has gone down by about 3500 students since the 2019-2020 school year. In the pandemic, some families have made difficult choices to keep students home, enroll in online school, or go to private school. Despite this, funding to PPS has NOT decreased.
Here is why:
The biggest part of the PPS budget comes from the state schools fund. In Oregon, the state legislature sets an overall K-12 budget, and then divides it amongst districts based on the proportion of students they enroll.
This school year, enrollment is down across the state. There are almost 30 thousand fewer students enrolled in Oregon schools this year, which broadly matches the declines we’ve seen here in PPS.
But the total amount of funding from the state – $9.3 billion in the 2021-23 biennium – has not gone down.
With stable state funding divided among fewer students across Oregon, the state is actually projecting more funding per-student for PPS and other districts.
That means we have the funding to KEEP the educators we have, and the opportunity and the responsibility to give each student MORE next year.
PPS HAS THE FUNDING TO MAKE NEXT YEAR A BETTER YEAR
When we first heard about these cuts, PPS said staffing cuts were necessary because of a projected 8% enrollment decline, which they said would result in a similar loss of funding.
Since that time, we’ve documented that PPS is actually getting slightly more funding overall, and significantly MORE funding per student next year:
$537 million from the State School Fund (up from $520 million this school year)
- Funding per student (weighted) has increased from $9.032 to $9,376 next year..
- $38 million from the Student Investment Account, from the Student Success Act, which parents and educators fought for to REDUCE CLASS SIZE and provide students with behavioral and mental health supports (up from $36 million this year).
- $111 million from the Portland Teacher Levy, which voters passed specifically to reduce class sizes (up from $104 million this year).
- $116 million in federal ESSR funds, of which about $70 remains and must be used by September, 2024 or be returned to the Department of Education (NEW funding for Covid-19 relief).
Our Community Is Pushing Back on Cuts
At a time when student need has never been greater, and with the funds to make next year a BETTER YEAR, raising class sizes should not be on the table:
- Thank you, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty for posting on Twitter that you “Stand with PAT.”
- Thank you, Gubernatorial Candidate Tina Kotek for urging PPS to “put every resource into the classroom experience at a time when students, teachers, and communities desperately need it.”
- Thank you to our fellow PPS Unions: SEIU, PFSP, DCU and ATU wrote this letter urging PPS to invest in students by dramatically reducing class sizes and caseloads.
- Thank you to Representative Pham, Jama, Nelson, and Salinas, and Senator Lawrence Spence of the Oregon BIPOC Caucus for sending this letter to PPS leaders reminding them that “cuts to student facing positions should be the option of absolute last resort.“
- Thank you to all the parents and educators writing to PPS leaders asking for smaller class sizes. PLEASE JOIN THEM!
- STABILIZE OUR SCHOOLS BY SUPPORTING EDUCATORS (February 2, 2022)
- WITH MILLIONS IN NEW FUNDING, PPS CUTS TEACHERS (February 16, 2022)
- PAT President Elizabeth Thiel’s remarks on staffing cuts and funding at the PPS School Board Meeting WATCH HERE (February 22, 2022)
- PAT President Elizabeth Thiel’s remarks at the PPS School Board Meeting WATCH HERE (March 1, 2022)
- OUR COMMUNITY STANDS WITH US FOR SMALL CLASS SIZES (March 9, 2022)
- March 9 PPS School Board Work Session agenda with materials attached
- PPS Budget: Let's Lay the Groundwork for a Better Year (April 6, 2022)
- WATCH: Remarks to the School Board by President Thiel and President-Elect Bonilla (May 10, 2022)