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Retrofitted Schools, More Teachers Welcome Back Portland Students

Students returned to Oregon’s largest school district Wednesday. Portland Public welcomed them with improved buildings and more classroom teachers.

Alameda Elementary School

Alameda Elementary School

Rob Manning/OPB

Police chief Mike Reese joined school board members and school superintendent Carole Smith at Alameda School, in Northeast Portland.

Alameda was one of several schools to get millions of dollars worth of construction work - aimed primarily at seismic safety.

It’s the first summer of construction funded by a voter-approved $480 million bond.

Superintendent Smith says it’s also the first time in a long time the district had sufficient state funding to avoid cutting teachers - and instead, hire more.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith

Rob Manning/OPB

“After many years of talking about lack of resource, this year, we’re starting the school year having added 71 staff to our schools,” Smith said. “This is a really big deal.”

Portland teachers are working without a contract agreement, after bargaining since April. Smith says the two sides could enter mediation, if they can’t reach a deal in face-to-face talks by an approaching deadline.