Portland Public Schools plans to hire 180, add school days

Portland Public Schools plans to hire 180, add school days

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Public Schools plans to add about 180 new staff members next year, Superintendent Carole Smith announced Monday night.

150 of those staff members would be teachers under the proposed plan.

Smith said an improving economy and property tax revenue will allow the district to increase spending by about $20 million.

“Adding teachers across the district will make a big difference for our students,” Smith said in a news release. “By adding over 179 more staff in our schools, we are able to increase the number of professional educators working directly with our students, reduce teacher workloads, and improve supports for students.”

The plan focuses on reducing class sizes and teacher workloads across the district. The changes are part of the new teacher contract.

The district plans to spend more than $2.5 million to lengthen the school year to 178 days, adding an additional two days for schools. Last week, Oregon's deputy superintendent of public instruction, Rob Saxton, threatened to withhold funding for PPS if it didn’t take corrective action with regard to student class time. Saxton also warned that high school credits for students in 2014-2015 could be invalidated.

Smith also announced plans to add another 19 non-teaching positions because the district anticipates a higher enrollment next year. Another 10 positions would increase support for focus and priority schools, Smith said.

The district also plans to invest more money in expanding language programs, improving student athletics and adding more equipment in computer labs.

The budget plans will be formally presented to the board on March 31.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.