When Portland school board members meet Monday, they’re likely to get an earful from frustrated parents. They say the district’s proposed budget doesn’t go nearly far enough to offer full school days to high school students.
You’re about to hear from three parents who are in leadership positions at three different Portland high schools. They all have the same problem. When Portland Public Schools cut staff and re-jiggered the high school schedule two years ago, it blew 90-minute holes in students’ sche
Monique McClean: “They’re going to go to McDonald’s, they’re going to smoke weed, all around people’s houses.”
Mike Rosen: “The Cleveland students who get out early, they are probably perpetrating petty theft. It’s a cultural difference,” he laughed.
Lisa Zuniga: “Ours are littering.”
That’s Franklin High parent Lisa Zuniga, Cleveland parent Mike Rosen and Grant High mom, Monique McClean. They’re laughing there, but they’re serious about the district’s schedule problem. By their math, it deprives some students of more than 40 school days.
Lisa Zuniga says the teachers at Franklin have to move through material more quickly.
“Kids who are traditionally ‘A’students are struggling because the material is being taught fast and furious, and they can’t understand it as well as they might have,” she said.
The Portland district says the changes were necessary to provide as full a program as possible in the face of significant budget cuts. Communications Director Robb Cowie says there’s enough money in the proposed budget to keep things stable — but not to add much back.
He explained, “And this year, we’re able to reinvest a small amount of funding in the high schools, and provide students with a guarantee of seven classes in 9th or 10th grade - or six classes as juniors or seniors.”
Parents say they feel ignored. Lisa Zuniga helped raise money for the district. She says she’s done being a cheerleader.
“I feel for my daughter that I sacrificed some of her high school because I didn’t understand it. Luckily I have two boys heading this way, and I think we can fix this, and hopefully it’s not too late for the kids who are in school now,” she said.
The district has shifted, toward assigning 11 more teachers across seven high schools, rather than holding them in reserve. But parents say that’s not enough.