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30,000 Rally for More Aid in Ore.

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More than 30,000 Oregonians marched in Portland last week to call for more funding for the state's schools.

The event, organized by the year-old Portland Schools Foundation, was first seen as a way raise money to close a $15 million shortfall in the Portland district's $319 million budget--a shortfall that could cost several hundred teachers their jobs. But the idea soon evolved into a broader effort to rally support for public schools across the state.

The march comes at a time when many Oregon districts are seeing their budgets stagnate--or shrink--under a property-tax-limitation law passed six years ago.

Over the past three years, the Portland public schools have cut more than 600 positions, and per-student expenditures have dropped from a high of $5,092 in 1992 to $3,486 this year ininflation-adjusted dollars.

Described as the largest political event in Portland's history, the "March for Our Schools" attracted more than twice as many people as its next-largest demonstration, a 1991 protest against the Persian Gulf war, The Associated Press reported.

Addressing the crowd were Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, and state Superintendent of Education Norma Paulus, a Republican.

"In Oregon, schools are fighting prisons for money from the state general fund, and the prisons are winning," Ms. Paulus said. "But one thing most inmates have in common is the fact they are uneducated."

--Meg Sommerfeld

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