Jefferson Cluster school reps, NECN to address school boundary changes

Two meetings this week will delve into the long-term changes planned for the schools in North and Northeast Portland that lie within Portland Public Schools’ Jefferson Middle College dual-enrollment zones. Although Jefferson was converted from a neighborhood comprehensive to a middle college focus program in the high school redesign, PPS administers this area separately from the neighborhood high school areas.

At issue is the wide variance in enrollment between various K-5 and K-8 schools in this area. PPS has already closed Humboldt School and Tubman Young Women’s Learning Academy this spring. PPS seeks to resolve the issue of persistent low enrollment at King School and Ockley Green schools while possibly changing some school configurations from K-8 to K-5 and/or creating a new middle school. King’s enrollment of 285 is far short of the district’s goal of 500. PPS also does not project any growth in the PPS student population in King.

On Wednesday July 25th, from 6-8 pm at the King Neighborhood Facility will be thhe enrollment balancing planning meeting. Director of Enrollment and Transfer at PPS, Judy Brennan, will meet with school community members to discuss the public outreach process and identify stakeholder groups in the reconfiguration process. Light dinner and child care will be provided.

The purpose of the meeting is for District staff to share information about enrollment challenges and opportunities at schools in the Jefferson Cluster, and to receive advice from community members on conducting a respectful and productive community process around these issues/opportunities this fall. The overall goal is to have recommendations for School Board action by winter that will be implemented in September 2013.

More than 20 parents and community members representing numerous schools, partner agencies, and neighborhood representatives have been invited to participate.

On Thursday, July 26th, from 6:30-8pm, the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods’ Schools Committee will meet at the King Facility as well. This meeting will follow up on the discussion of the previous night. Special guests will include Rep. Lew Frederick and his staffer and former school board member, Sue Hagmeier, for a discussion about how to support inner North and Northeast Portland’s neighborhood schools.

Jefferson Middle College Program Meetings

From 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday January 12, 19, 26 and February 2, Jefferson High School leaders will offer information on the school’s new Middle College program. Jefferson High School – Middle College for Advanced Studies will launch next fall.

Open to high school students across the district, with guaranteed access to neighborhood students, the Middle College program partners with Portland Community College to offer students access to college credit while attending high school. The Jefferson attendance boundary will be split between Grant and Roosevelt High Schools for those who opt to attend a comprehensive high school. King Neighborhood schools will feed to Grant.

Portland Schools Make Plans to Enter the 21st Century

A meeting was held Thursday night at the home of former school board co-chair Julie Brim-Edwards to sound out the local Portland Public Schools community about a long-planned bond measure that would update all of PPS’s nearly 100 school buildings. About 50 parents and school volunteers attended and were given the details of the plan thus far by board member Bobbie Regan. The cash-strapped district has seen property tax revenues fall far behind property values due to property-tax limitations. PPS has been in a holding mode of trying to maintain its infrastructure as it steadily declines since much of it was built over 70 years ago. Many building still use out of date, environmentally inefficient bunker-oil fueled boilers such as King School. According to Ms. Regan, the custodial staff at Faubion told her the boiler there requires 7 hours of cleaning per week to keep it operating safely.

The bond measure, if the board votes to put it on the ballot this fall, will prioritize high schools for most of the initial work so that the maximum number of current PPS students and parents will see a benefit. The improvements could take 30 years to complete and will involve whole buildings being gutted and rebuilt. Jefferson, Roosevelt and Cleveland High Schools would be the first three. Jefferson will become the new middle college program for all of Portland and its graduates will leave with college credit, easing their transition to higher education and on track to a career. The new campus will be closely integrated with PCC Cascade campus across Killingsworth.

In addition to the three high schools slated for total overhaul in the first round, money from the first bond (the bond will be up for renewal every six years until work is complete) will be available to bring all Portland high school facilities up to more suburban-level standards with respect to science lab and sports facilities. With the newfound appeal of urban living and the walkable neighborhood, the investment in public institutions and facilities is lagging behind ideals. Approximately 80% of Portlanders don’t have school age children and therefore are not intimately aware of the need for this update. With investment in schools, stable, multigenerational neighborhoods with people invested in their local community and higher property values will result.

Learn more on the PPS site:

School Board to Discuss High School Plans Tonight

The Portland school board will consider proposed high school changes tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 5 -7 p.m. at the Blanchard Education Service Center, 501 N. Dixon St.

o Board members will spend the first hour discussing with staff members plans to support Marshall Campus students as they transition into new schools.
o The second hour will be spent on an in-depth look into the middle college program proposed for Jefferson High School.
o Community members are welcome to attend the work session, however public testimony will not be taken.

Benson Polytechnic High School, Jefferson High School, and existing charter schools would make up a network of focus schools – open to students from across the school district.

◦Benson will continue to offer a four-year program of career and technical education, serving approximately 425 to 850 students full time on the campus, enabling students to pursue one or more in-depth career focused programs.

◦Jefferson would build on a strong partnership with Portland Community College to offer a middle college program that provides students the chance to earn college credits while pursuing their high school diploma. Students residing in the current Jefferson boundary could choose to attend the Jefferson focus school, or have guaranteed entrance into Grant, Madison or Roosevelt high schools, depending on their address.

•The Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women would no longer offer a high school program, but would become a stand-alone focus middle school, independent of Jefferson High, serving grades 6 to 8.

The board is scheduled to vote on the changes at a meeting Oct. 12.