A message from Deputy Superintendent Dr. Yvonne Curtis on 2018-19 staffing levels at Portland Public Schools
For a school by school breakdown of staffing levels, see the attached chart:
Portland Public Schools is in the process of allocating teaching staff at schools throughout the district. As has been true for many years, we are working within a budget that has been chronically underfunded by the state, and we are doing our utmost to make the most of the resources we have. Understandably, parents, students and PPS staff want to know what will happen at their specific schools. While precise allocations won’t be known until enrollment figures become clear in the fall, we can share what we know at this point, and answer many of the questions we have heard to date.
Under the leadership of Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and myself, the district has established a new method for determining how schools are staffed by teachers. We believe change is needed for a number of reasons, including inconsistent course offerings in middle grades and high schools; inconsistent rationale for how teachers are allocated among schools and a lack of clarity on the use of racial equity funding — money set aside to improve outcomes for historically underserved students. This new staffing model addresses those concerns and is based on a set of goals:
- Ensure schools have adequate staffing to maintain reasonable class sizes.
- Support the district’s equity goals.
- Provide baseline academic program offerings at every school.
- Provide greater stability over time.
Using these goals as guideposts, the district is making a considerable investment in adding teaching staff and allocating full time equivalent positions (FTE) in a way that will have a positive impact during the next school year, particularly in schools that have been historically under-enrolled.
As is the case each year, some schools will see a drop in teaching staff, while others will see an increase. These changes are due to a variety of factors, including projected enrollment, refocused use of equity funding and changes in course programming. This year, as PPS opens two new middle schools, converts eight K-8 schools to K-5 elementary schools, and converts a K-5 elementary school to a full Spanish immersion school, the changes are more pronounced.
To help better understand changes in staffing, here are some commonly asked questions and answers.
Q: What is the new staffing model intended to do?
A: Ensure each school – especially small schools – has an adequate number of teachers; ensure instruction for core programming and state PE and Health requirements; ensure equity funds are put to best and highest use.
Q: How will the new staffing model improve student outcomes?
A: By keeping class sizes reasonable, providing a baseline of academic programing K-12, and ensuring that equity allocations are targeted appropriately, the district will offer students a more consistent educational experience across schools and improve the academic experience of historically underserved students.
Q: How is equity funding being allocated in 2018-19?
A: To receive equity funding, principals need to justify through a data-driven process that the funding will benefit historically underserved or marginalized students. It will be targeted at schools with 15 percent or more economically disadvantaged students, or 40 percent or more historically underserved. Previously, equity funding use has been inconsistent in how it was targeted to support underserved students.
Q: What are some specific changes to the way FTEs are allocated?
A: In elementary, middle and K-8 schools, staff will be allocated based on the number of classes required by grade level or subject based on the projected enrollment in those grade levels. Previously, the FTE allocation was allocated on a ratio of projected enrollment for the entire school. This change will ensure that each grade level has the necessary number of teachers. High school FTE allocation will continue to be based on a ratio, but all high schools will start with a minimum base number of FTE, to ensure adequate staffing at under-enrolled and small schools and ensure students receive instruction in core academic and state-mandated courses.
Q: Is the district adding or cutting teachers?
A: The district has added 22 classroom teachers (FTE) compared with the current year. The district has budgeted for additional staffing, which would be allocated as needed in the fall once final enrollments are known at each school. In addition, school communities are also investing allocated Equity Funds, Foundation funds, and other sources of revenue to support identified priorities, including additional staffing. These supplemental funds are resulting in dozens more staff positions at particular schools.
Q: How will those additional allocations be decided?
A: The district will apply a two-part test. The teachers will go to schools that need the most significant help in keeping classes at a reasonable size AND to schools that have most pressing equity needs. The district has also prioritized the allocation of additional full-time classroom teachers to better ensure equitable programming in underenrolled neighborhood strands.
Q: If the district is adding FTE, why are some teachers being unassigned?
A: Each year, a small percentage of teachers are unassigned from their current position. This is based primarily on seniority and the individual teacher’s endorsement. Unassigned teachers have the opportunity to apply for other jobs within the district and most are re-assigned. In preparation for the 2018-19 school year, about 150 teachers have been unassigned – about average for the district. However, the district is posting 300 open positions, which unassigned teachers may apply for.