Background and Agreed Upon Facts:
Every school in Portland is underfunded, along with every school in the state. The Oregon Quality Education Commission report anticipates a $833 million dollar funding gap between fully implemented quality education funding and current levels for the 21-23 biennium.
Education in Oregon is grossly underfunded due to regressive ballot measures (e.g., 1990’s Measure 5), pushed by anti-government forces that radically changed how we fund local and state government. The passage of this measure resulted in drastic funding cuts for our public services in Oregon, especially schools.
Local School Foundations in Portland were created in 1994 in response to the cuts in school funding created by the regressive ballot measures. These Local School Foundations have for years helped make up the funding gap at both their local school and helped all PPS schools through a required one-third (33%) equity share. From Local School Foundations — The Fund for Portland Public Schools:
“The PPS community has received positive national press coverage for initiating ways that parent-led fundraising can transcend individual school communities and make a broader, more equitable impact. In the current model, two thirds of dollars above $10,000 raised at a school may be allocated toward staffing at the school that raised the funds, while one third of the funds raised are pooled with those from all the LSFs to become the PPS Parent Fund. These dollars are in turn awarded to schools based on a data-driven formula which measures relative need.”
PPS schools are not funded equally and per a pupil spending varies widely from school to school. This is an intentional policy from the Racial Equity and Social Justice Lens (RESJ) that implemented the differentiated staffing ratio and equity formula for budgeting for school staffing in the 2018-2019 school year. Schools with higher percentages of historically underserved and higher needs students in their communities receive significantly more funds per pupil than those from more affluent communities with lower percentages of such students. PPS nobly uses an equity lens funding model in its budgetary decisions that directs more funds to such higher need schools. However, this lens, taken in combination with federal funds (Title 1 and other programs) results in some schools receiving approximately twice (2x) as much per student on average as other schools. One elementary school has received an average of $6,926 per student over 2020-2023, while another elementary school has received $14,797 per student over the same period. See the following PPS documents for source information and greater details:
Funds from LSFs and their equity contributions to the Fund for PPS provide important financial support for supplementary staffing across all PPS schools. Over 2017-2022, LSFs raised an average of $3.3 million/year, whereby a third of those revenues raised went to the Parent Fund. For 2021-22, 31 LSFs raised enough funds so that the Parent Fund was able to grant awards of at least $10,000 to 48 of the district’s 83 schools for 2022-23. Additionally, the Parent Fund was able to make 2 additional grants of $10,000 to other programs, and 6 additional grants of $5,000 to the 6 Pathways to Graduation. Overall, for the 2022-23 school year, 31.89 FTE were funded by LSFs and 9.57 FTE were funded by schools who received Parent Fund grants. See following documents from the PPS Board Public Meeting Agenda: November 14, 2022 at 4:00 PM - Work Session:
PPS eliminated nearly 90 full-time educator positions for the 22/23 school year due to declining enrollment, and the district has made it clear they are looking at even more drastic budget cuts in the coming years. For the 22/23 school year, those cuts were not evenly distributed and disproportionately fell on schools located in more “affluent” communities. Indeed, some elementary schools lost as many as 5 educators while others gained positions. Many of these schools are running on a skeleton crew of staff and morale is down. More and more parents with the means to do so are considering sending their children to private schools to ensure a good educational environment and experience for their kids, resulting in a vicious cycle of lower enrollment, lower public funding, and struggling schools.
Funding and Staff Allocation Data from PPS
RESJ Lens Slides are from pp. 22-23 of File_ 11_14 Work Session PPS LSF Presentation REVISED from Public Meeting Agenda: November 14, 2022 at 4:00 PM - Work Session - BoardBook Premier
Heatmaps are from Pages 10-11 of 2022-23 Proposed Budget - Volume 2.pdf (pps.net)