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Portland, Ore., To Cut Almost 500 School Jobs

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The Portland, Ore., school district plans to eliminate nearly 500 full-time jobs--most of them teaching positions--and curtail many educational programs by next year.

The cuts, decided at this month's school board meeting, are part of the board's attempt to cut $15 million from the 1996-97 operating budget of $319 million. The board also wants to decrease the school year by six days, saving the district an additional $6 million.

Adding to the district's woes, the Portland Teachers Association has threatened to strike if a contract is not settled by March 26. The union's 4,000 members have been working without a contract for more than two years.

Amid Portland's budget troubles, Superintendent John Bierwirth has raised the possibility of gaining charter status for the 57,000-student district. (See Education Week, March 20, 1996.)

Avoiding a Takeover

An Alabama district has come up with a plan to ward off a state takeover, but state officials have not made a final decision about the district's future.

Under a new accountability law, the state education department has asked the financially troubled Fairfield city district outside Birmingham to fix its fiscal problems by May 1, said Edward R. Richardson, the state superintendent.

The 2,300-student district expects to end the year $1 million short, in a budget of $12 million. (See Education Week, Feb. 28, 1996.)

The department also has warned another system, Wilcox County in southwestern Alabama, to get its financial books in order by May 1, Mr. Richardson said.

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