Underfunding causes problems at Lincoln

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From the bathrooms to the classrooms, it is apparent at Lincoln that there is a lack of money. From constantly out-of-order toilets and tiles falling from the ceiling to water dripping through the roof into a huge mobile trash bin, problems are everywhere.

According to Portland Public Schools’ Adopted Budget Book (link), in the 2018-2019 school year, PPS adopted a budget of $75 million dollars for its high schools. Even though this seems like a lot, Lincoln’s building is still crumbling, classes like some theater classes and queer studies are being cut. Lincoln students are used to not seeing enough money, and sick of it.

“It doesn’t seem like they spend it [money] on the actual school,” Maggie Zhou, a sophomore says. Zhou also said that large class sizes make it difficult for teachers to spend time with individual students, especially for the more challenging classes.

Jill Ross is the business manager for Lincoln. She is in charge of everything that is non-instructional.

When it comes to funding the district mostly dictates where the money goes. “I get a list of ‘here’s what you have to do’ from the district,” says Ross.

A large amount of money is spent on things like copiers, paper, ManageBac and TurnItIn.com subscriptions and other supplies. A pallet of paper costs around $1,100 and $45,000 were spent on the copy machines alone not including toner and that wasn’t even over the course of an entire year.

Despite all the constraints on money, certain funds such as student body funds can only go to students.This money comes from donations like the ones from parents on the registration sheet at the beginning of the year.

Junior Zachary Goldsmith, an active member of the theater department, sees the effects of a small arts budget first-hand.

“People don’t value the arts enough… They could upgrade the seats in the auditorium and replace the fly systems to make them safer,” he says. “Why do we still have to self-fund?”

Sarah Espinoza, an alumnus of Lincoln and the mother of current Lincoln student Lenna Espinoza, has a unique perspective on Lincoln.

“I think there is too much focus on sports and not enough on fine arts,” says Espinoza. “Since forever, Lincoln has funded football and basketball, I think more so than any other program at the school.” This is hardly luxurious though – some uniforms are only replaced every seven years.

Zhou also says that Lincoln is likely one of the better schools in the district. It is ranked by Niche.com as the 12th best public high school in the Portland area and is the highest scoring PPS school, six places above the second-highest, Cleveland.

Goldsmith is frustrated that the building the school uses as a campus is old and outdated. While a new facility will soon begin construction, he says it’s not soon enough. “They could have rebuilt the school years ago… What gives, Lincoln?”

“I’d love to have more money for field trips and activities that kids want to do that are too expensive for everyone to do,” says Ross.