Portland Public Schools announces tens of millions of dollars in upcoming budget cuts

By Natalie Pate (OPB)
Feb. 14, 2024 6:14 a.m. Updated: Feb. 14, 2024 6:21 p.m.

Outgoing Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said to expect $30 million in cuts in next year’s school budget

Portland Public Schools is facing tens of millions of dollars in cuts.

In a letter to the Portland Public Schools community Tuesday night, outgoing Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said to expect $30 million in cuts for next year’s 2024-25 budget. Since 90% of the district budget pays to operate schools, he said the impact on students and educators is “unavoidable.”


However, it’s not yet clear what all those cuts will be.

District leaders have been warning that significant cuts were inevitable since last year. This only increased in the fall. As the PPS board and teachers were approving a contract last November at the end of the month-long strike, the district estimated the deal would lead to as much as $130 million in cuts over the three-year life of the contract.

“We shared that we would need to make adjustments to right-size our school system,” Guerrero said in Tuesday’s letter. “We are at that point now.”

As Portland superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero, shown on the right in this 2023 file photo, prepares to leave for a job in Los Angeles, he told the school board Tuesday night the district is facing millions in budget cuts. Also pictured is Portland Public School Board of Education Chair Gary Hollands (left) and Cesar Chavez School principal Jorge Meza (center).

Caden Perry / OPB


Guerrero said the district plans to cover half of the gap in next year’s annual budget by reducing $15 million from central operations. He said this represents about 6% of overall central office budgets and follows $40 million in previous reductions over the last two years.

The remaining $15 million would be cut from the district’s 86 schools under the plan laid out by Guerrero as he prepares to leave Oregon’s largest district. Guerrero said the cuts equate to about 2% of school-based budgets.

The district anticipates some schools will see teacher-to-student ratios increase by one or two students on average, Guerrero added. With “few exceptions,” the district will preserve students’ access to visual and performing arts classes, physical education and libraries. Some are concerned the district is downplaying the impact of these cuts and argue PPS should act differently.

Angela Bonilla, president of the Portland Association of Teachers, said educators have raised concerns for years about the district’s increased spending on administration and outside vendors at the expense of new resources in the classroom — a topic that came up during the November strike as well.

“Just last month, PPS released its financial audit showing that — once again — after projecting a budget deficit the district closed its fiscal year with a $7 million surplus,” Bonilla said in a written statement Wednesday. “For district leaders to announce a plan just days later to cut $15 million from our neighborhood public schools is an insult to the Portland students and families who have been advocating for years that we need more resources and support in our classrooms, not less.”

Bonilla argued district administrators have already cut support in classrooms “to the bone.” If new cuts need to be made, she argued they should be done “as far from students as possible.” That, according to Bonilla, means finding savings in administration, purchased services and other non-student areas of the budget. Bonilla said the district should also work with educators to fight for additional school funding from the state.

Interim Superintendent Sandy Husk will be responsible for overseeing the budget process this spring.

PPS’ Community Budget Review Committee is scheduled to meet virtually this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. A 2024-25 budget update is on the agenda.