PORTLAND The Portland School District has announced plans to hire 179 new staffers, including 150 teachers, for the 2014-2015 school year.

PPS Superintendent Carol Smith outlined the entire budget plan before the Board of Education on Monday. She said the budget would include $20.1 million in increased spending as a result of increased property tax revenue projections and an improved economy.

The district will also be getting money from the State School Fund to pay for the new positions. PPS will get around $8 million from the $100 million increase to the school fund in the 2013 special legislative session.

Adding teachers across the district will make a big difference for our students, said Smith. By adding over 179 more staff in our schools, we are able to increase the number of professional educators working directly with our students, reduce teacher workloads, and improve supports for students.

Students would also have more access to counselors starting in the fall of 2014. Smith said the new budget will cover at least one half-time counselor for all K-5 & K-8 schools.

In addition, high-school counselors will have their average student loads reduced from 400 to 350 students.

The plan would also add 30 professional educators to Special Education.

Superintendent Smith informed the board that her plans include funding for several more priorities in 2014/15, including the use of $4.75 million of reserves for one-time investments.

The budget plans will be formally presented to the board on March 31.

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