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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Portland school closure list

Willy Week says it has the current draft: Rieke, Stephenson, Sitton, Astor, Humboldt, Hollyrood, Rose City Park, Llewellyn, Creston, Bridger and Woodmere. Eleven of 'em over the next two years. Extra extra, read all about it here.

Comments (54)

I guess the next question is which ones are going to get shut right away, and which are going to be held hostage for the school tax vote in November.

Hmm... The SWNI schools committee meeting is tomorrow night. I'm the Multnomah Neighborhood Association rep. I'm sure there will be lots of talk about this, although it's no great surprise that Reike's on the list.... Guess we could have saved some money on the whole boundary-redefinition thing...

Reike and Stephensen...I guess Markham will have to absorb yet even more students in addition to those students that moved to Markham from Smith last year.


Right in the middle of Eastmoreland.


Lived a block away as a youngster.

Instead of repeating the same approach and expecting something different.

Throw someone, anyone, out of office.

I understand that Sten and Saltzman are fearless advocates for our children. No doubt they'll be leading the charge to keep these schools open.

Hi all. As part of the staff at the school district, I can tell you that this leaked powerpoint is the March 14 iteration of one scenario that staff have worked on in a fairly freewheeling discussion/brainstorming about the future of the school district. It's very much a draft in progress, complete with question marks and gaps. Names of schools have come on and off the list, and there were at least two well-developed scenarios.

This one that was given to WW and The O today is the scenario that would (over some time frame) move many of our schools to K-8, usually by closing an elementary school building and moving the kids and teachers together into a neighboring middle school building to become a K-8. Obviously, the scenario the staff brainstormed would play out differently in different neighborhoods.

The main goal of any discussion is to create stable schools with a large enough staff to continue to give kids a well-rounded education (or to improve that where there are gaps), with more music, PE, arts, etc. K-8 might be one way to approach that goal.

What do you think? Since this scenario is out there, poke holes in it, suggest improvements, give your opinion (whether "over my dead body" or "K-8 NOW"). Let us know . . . nothing's a done deal and we'd be happy to hear from you. Over the next few weeks, Superintendent Vicki Phillips will be working on HER recommendations to the Board (she hasn't signed off on this draft staff scenario), with her recommendations due to be announced April 4. You may email her at superintendent@pps.k12.or.us and I'll check back to read your comments here.

Sarah Carlin Ames
PPS Communications

I have to say that I'm not surprised, not shocked, and not terrifically upset about this (even though I still can't see Fernwood as a K-8 school.)

We live in different times, and we don't have the luxury of sustaining small neighborhood schools in the increasingly fractionalized environment we live in. When I first moved to Portland eight years ago, we found a house two blocks away from our neighborhood school; I assumed my son would go to school with neighbor kids. But as I soon discovered, none of the kids on our block went to our local school, while fully 50% of our school's population came from outside the district boundaries.

It used to be that kids went to their neighborhood school, period. But when we opened the doors to allow school choice, relaxed transfer guidelines, and created magnet/special focus programs (all laudable attempts to keep kids in public school, in my opinion), we had to anticipate that we were weakening ties to a particular neighborhood school, and could no longer guarantee that school's survival as neighbors voted with their feet to send their kids elsewhere.

Now, eight years later, I'd argue that a school's community is not solely defined by its geographic boundaries. And that as painful as these closures might be, we're better off making the hard choices now, instead of later.

I'm a new poster on this site (but I've really enjoyed reading people's opinions). Now that the topic has reached an area I can relate to, I feel confident to give my two-cents.

I was last a student at a Portland Public School, about five years ago. I think as a student from a couple of the "worse" schools in the district I can attest to the differences that have come since I left. I attended Marshall back when it was one school (instead of three), and from what I've heard from friends and students who have since graduated when it was partitioned there seems to have been a real (good) difference.

The point I'm making is change can be hard, I think, and at times scary (a bad cliche, even if true). I, personally, as a relatively recent graduate of a Portland Public High school welcome any change-no matter how radical that such closures might bring, if it means a better education for the kids in the city.

I suppose if I were to cite any concern-it might be the interactions between the older kids and the younger: bullying and things of that nature. Also, there's the chance of a kid getting a feeling a little lost and confused in the larger student population that would come from the merging of schools. Anyway, thanks for reading my bit.

"interactions between the older kids and the younger"

I personally attended a K-8 school. I didn't experience any kind of problems related to age differences but I can understand that there is the potential for it.

I don't think K-8 is a bad idea... especially if it means saving programs like music, sports, etc. that would otherwise be lost if the consolidation didn't occur. Better to have a bigger school with more opportunities than an empty shell.

I suppose if I were to cite any concern-it might be the interactions between the older kids and the younger: bullying and things of that nature.

I'm in absolute agreement. Not to mention the completely different social environment a middle-schooler is in...starting to seriously date, girls turning into young women, boys into young men. Eighth graders mixing with first graders...not a good mix. A recipe for problems.

Do you think they'll mix much? The huge warehouse environment won't help the situation, I suppose.

I suppose if I were to cite any concern-it might be the interactions between the older kids and the younger: bullying and things of that nature.

I understand the best-case scenario of having K-8 schools. In some situations--like a flush budget--it might work. Older kids "showing the ropes" to the younger kids. Mentoring. It takes a village to raise a child--that sort of thing. But let's be realistic about these times. This is not a change that is being driven by some sort of educational philosophy--this is being driven by a lack of money, plain and simple. Along with the change to K-8 we are going to get bigger classes, fewer teachers to monitor the kids. We're going to get fewer staff persons out on the playground at lunch to make sure that the older kids don't take advantage of the younger kids. We'll get fewer educational resources. We'll get older books, and crumbling buildings. We shouldn't be naiive and act as though this is some great new educational philosophy we've discovered.

In some situations, yeah, K-8 might work. But just as a wise man said "don't pee on my foot and tell me it's raining," I'd like to ask Portland's school leaders to not impose K-8 because of a massive budget shortfall while acting like it's being done for some non-budgetary reason.

I attended a K-8 school and it was just fine. The "little kids" had different recess times than the "middle kids" and "big kids", and the different age groups had nothing to do with eachother, even separate restrooms and play areas. Nobody beat me up, I didn't buy drugs from the older kids, and I even managed to get a graduate degree after attending public high school and a state college. K-8 can work.

Regardless, why is nobody addressing the real problems, that being PPS spending is out of control? And don't even get me started about the PERS and employee benefit issue.

Closing schools might be part of an overall solution, but it feels more like the "throw grandma out in the snowbank" and "fifty kids in the classroom" threats that we have grown so used to.

How do we influence REAL change?

Regardless, why is nobody addressing the real problems, that being PPS spending is out of control?

What does this mean? What evidence do you have that "spending is out of control"? And, no, the fact that the district's NEEDED expenditures are below what the state is giving it does not indicate that spending is out of control--it indicates that the state's budget priorities are fubar. This is becoming one of those things that conservatives just kind of throw out there without any supporting evidence.

Any consolidation of any public services will only work if expenses are put out to bid and PERS and health-care benefits are restructured. Otherwise it just postpones the day of reckoning.

Perhaps people have a hard time understanding that, so I've prepared a brief "Q & A with Ramon".

Q: Why do our public officials and The bOregonion see the explosion of follies like Policy & Fire Disability and Retirement and transportation boondoggles like the TRAM and downtown Light Rail as merely "PR problems"?

A: They do not acknowledge broken public-private partnership economic models because they are so invested in the "status quo". That means maintaining their own power is more important than facts or truths with which they disagree. Time is always on their side, and they are experts at obscurity.

Q: When will they realize that the government must change the way it spends our money before people can be expected to agree to fork over more?

A: Public officials see the light when they feel the heat. After the voters enact enforceable spending limits their behavior will change. The bO needs a healthy dose of competition and alternate media are beginning to provide that. But if a new owner came in and moved the bO to another city, that would be sad.

Why is the PPS leadership totally ducking the issue with the high schools? Political cowardice? Jefferson, Roosevelt, Madison, and Marshall are all at about 50% of capacity and have VERY high per pupil operational costs.

When will that be addressed?

Why is the PPS leadership totally ducking the issue with the high schools?

Because the only high school that it really makes sense to close is Jefferson, and that's politically impossible.

Because the only high school that it really makes sense to close is Jefferson, and that's politically impossible.

Arne makes a great point. Jeff has the highest cost per pupil in the PPS system. Is the proposal to let Mt. Olive run a 50-student Academy an opportunity to keep Jeff open and reasonably affordable? Are there other options? Closing ANY high school seems to be a loser to me in thinking about the facilities that high schools have that elementary schools don't (tracks, football stadiums, weight rooms, machine shops, etc.).

Sarah Carlin-Ames, perhaps you can weigh in on this?

Specifically, can we save enough money to justify losing the specialized facilities that all high schools have?

Also, what exactly is PPS doing to bring benefits in line with other districts. The info I had seen showed that PPS has competitive salaries, but that benefits were more than 20% on top of the salaries. Other districts were under 10%. I don't have the link, but these are stats I've heard from several different places. Can you comment?

Why is the PPS leadership totally ducking the issue with the high schools?

I went to some of the "open meetings" last year when the district was "thinking about" closing my neighborhood school, Edwards Elementary. The whole process is such a joke...from the opening statement, it was clear that the decision was already made, and that they were just going through the motions. Some parents brought up the high-school issue, and from the reaction of the school board representative (David Wynde) you'd have thought they had asked him to burn a flag on stage.

I am sick by the lack of any leadership on this. Where is the mayor? Where is the governor? Where are the leaders of the legislature? The state's largest school district is being gutted, and nobody is anywhere to be seen. It really is sickening.

My comments, as SE parent with children in Duniway, Sellwood, Cleveland, after reviewing the plan:

  • The plan is driven by the principle that K-8 schools provide the best educational outcomes. This is shown on the 13th page of the slides. I am not sure where this comes from or if it is true.
  • In my own cluster, this change will have the unfortunate impact of splitting what is now a relatively unified community (Sellwood/Westmoreland from Eastmoreland). This has more of an impact than people may realize (see below).
  • By severely limiting transfers into Sellwood (currently 1/4 of the school population), Sellwood (k-8) becomes a much less diverse school.
  • Duniway (k-8) becomes almost a private school, serving only the Eastmoreland neighborhood. Now, I live in Eastmoreland, so wouldn't I support this? I am not sure. When my children transition to Sellwood, they encounter a whole new set of kids. They are forced to resist the tendency to form very tightly knit, very homogeneous social groups.
  • Finances and PTA. The Sellwood PTA is sustained in part by the high income Duniway residents (Sellwood is no slouch, but definitely a broader range of incomes than Duniway). Has the PPS considered what the PTA fund impact will be of this change?

By far the most politically controversial suggestion is moving Bridlemile from Lincoln to Wilson cluster.

Here's the problem: you cannot open the doors to allow for greater school choice, create special focus programs to entice people across school boundaries, *and* sustain strong neighborhood schools across the board. Can't be done.

Current parents have taken advantage of opportunities to move their kids away from their neighborhood schools; we can't prop up the schools left half-empty in their wake just because others might want a nearby neighborhood option.

(Well, maybe we could - but with *what* money...?0

I'm not necessarily thrilled that my kid's middle school might be going to a K-8 format - but let's be realistic here. Either shut the doors tight and make every child attend his/her neighborhood school (or leave public education altogether), or loosen up the boundaries so that parents can make choices, and deal with the fallout accordingly. You can't have it both ways.

Forgive my ignorance on the matter, but if Jefferson is hard to close (politically), why not close another nearby H.S. like Roosevelt and school them at Jeff? Or, if Grant is overcrouded, why not move 25% of the students to Jeff?

Of course, we need to eliminate the school-choice option to make this work. Plenty of well-off families moving into NE need to accept that if they are to move to the neighborhood, they are expected to be citizens. That means, your kid can't get bussed to Wilson or Lincoln. Don't like it? Tough sh*t. Make your neighborhood school work then.

Who at PPS leaked the powerpoint w/school closure info to the public?

***Blood rising to temples***

TK, I'm not sure your ignorance is excusable. Killing school choice isn't the way to solve performance problems. Choice was implemented to address those problems. I'm sure the single moms in the Jeff cluster are just being selfish by not "making their neighborhood schools work". I'm sure that an engaged parent can end the gang problems, safety issues, and high teacher turnover and still maintain their busy schedule. I'm sure that the kids trapped in the failing Jefferson cluster would be fine if only they were forced to go to the worst schools in the district.

You must not have children.

That may be taken either as a directive or an observation.

"That means, your kid can't get bussed to Wilson or Lincoln. Don't like it? Tough sh*t.

That's the spirit. Who would have thought TK was anti-choice?

If K-8 saves money, do it. It's an configuration with a track record. The switch to middle schools here was a "good idea" embraced with little research and hasn't delivered the promised results. It may even be worse academically for reasons rooted in socialization difficulties. It appears that some of the commenters here (who are either much younger than I or not from Portland, orginally) think that it will somehow traumatize the younger students. My take is that it may, in some sense, reduce the pressure on 6th through 8th graders to "grow up faster" created by their arbitrary transition to "middle schoolers". They are torn away from their youth as represented by the younger kids and forced to "mature" and conform to the expectations of society and pop culture's dictates. Frank Dufay's worries notwithstanding, how is this a good thing?

Dave J.,

PPS spending is out of control. The evidence is that they're 50-some million short and haven't got a plan and evidently didn't have a clue that they'd be in this situation. Don't attack people who see the problem as including spending as "consevative" (as if that's a pejorative). Their view is at least as valid and realistic as the "sky is falling" K-8 school scenarios in your later comment.

Don Smith-

I REALLY don't think it's too much to ask. The school in your neighborhood should be part and parcel to it. If you live in a neighborhood, are you doing it a service by turning your back on it? How can a community feel ownership of their 'commons' if they don't care about it? Imagine being a kid with friends around the block who go to 3-5 different schools? Wow, sounds like a healthy development to me...

My comment about 'making the schools work' was not directed at single parents in the Jeff cluster. It was directed at folks moving into NE to 'gentrify' it... the same folks that look longingly at Lincoln, Wilson, and private schools while their real estate investments appreciate. The folks with resources are sending their kids elsewhere at the expense of the schools in their neighborhood. Small class sizes are great, but if a school sits half empty, you can easily surmise it will suffer. THAT causes teacher turnover, low staffing levels, less well-rounded curriculum, AND safety issues. Not to mention the morale issues that we're seeing today.

Cool your red temples and get a clue.

In my younger days, I used to think many of the world's problems could be solved if everyone had to walk to work. Just think: factories wouldn't pollute where the managers worked, less air pollution from fewer cars, neighborhoods would be economically, racially, and socially integrated, and the population would be healthier from walking more. And the kids would walk to the neighborhood school. Back then, I might have agreed with TK.

Unfortunately, that approach only works in a dictatorship. If you want neighborhood schools to work, you have to make them attractive enough for parents to WANT to send their kids there. Forcing them to do it will never work.


That's not a dictatorship. There are many students right now, elsewhere in our area, that have to perscribe to the closest-school model. I grew up in Boring, part of the Oregon Trail School District, and I had no other choice but to go to Cottrell Elementary school down the street (as opposed to Boring Elementary). I couldn't go to Then I had no other choice but to go to Sandy H.S. I'm still amazed how surprisingly diverse the backgrounds were at that school, not racially, but from a socio-economic point of view. Rich kids, poor kids, sons and daughters of farmers, lawyers, policemen, loggers, bankers, etc. Not too bad if you ask me.

Who at PPS leaked the powerpoint w/school closure info to the public?

Someone who doesn't like the closure plan, and knows the way things happen around here--the people who make the decisions act for months like they don't have a decision, and then suddenly release one about a week before the deadline for reaching the decision, when it is too late for the public to do anything. My guess is that this leak is their way of getting the news out before Super Vicki and the board can do the same dance they did last year with the school closures.

YES TK....this school choice nonsense is mostly a Portland phenomenon. Waltz down to the Gresham district and ask for choice. No way!Reynolds....Nope. Centennial? LMAO! Noooo!

Either Jefferson or Roosevelt should go. Close the one that has the highest real estate market value and merge the student bodies.

Also...Madison and Marshall could be combined. Marshall's location would fetch a pretty penny on the real estate market. Some of the Marshall students could move to Franklin.

Better than all of this....the Portland Public School District should be split into 3 distinct districts. Smaller districts seem to be a succesful model in both the East and Westside suburbs. Maybe PPS is just too damn big to be more efficient and less political.

My guess is that this leak is their way of getting the news out before Super Vicki and the board can do the same dance they did last year with the school closures.

Really? I was kind of thinking that Super Vicki did it deliberately -- kind of a trial balloon. Whoever did it was very egalitarian, having alerted the WW yesterday afternoon and giving the O enough time to draw up maps and everything.

Jack, I'm beginning to think Super Vickie is WAY more politically astute than most of the politicians in this area. Certainly more savvy than the school board!

I'm sure it was her leak....to launch her trial baloon. I'm sure Opie is watching that baloon! There are votes to be had if he can pick the right side to be on!

Don Smith said "I'm sure the single moms in the Jeff cluster are just being selfish by not "making their neighborhood schools work". I'm sure that an engaged parent can end the gang problems, safety issues, and high teacher turnover and still maintain their busy schedule."

If it isn't the single mother's or the engaged parent's reponsibility to make sure our children don't turn to gangs, that they do their homework, or behave in class, (student misbehavior and teacher's lack of recourse is #1 cause of teacher burnout), than who's is it? The school? Better increase that school budget by more than double if that is the case!

What percentage of elementary, middle, and HS students do not attend their local school?

Folks here (Betsy in particular) imply that the numbers are very high and that the choice program (which unless I am wrong has been in place for decades) has somehow caused the recent school crisis.

I don't see how this could be possible, given the timing. This crisis is caused by a) enrollment decline, b) Measure 5, c) a teaching corps overweighted to senior (expensive) teachers due to layoffs due to enrollment decline.

A person:

Doesn't health care costs and PERS also factor into the cause of the "crisis"? Even a teeny tiny iota??????

I think you're missing something here....

The PPS "choice" program has been around for about 20 years although not on the scale it is today. It hasn't caused the financial problems but it is an impediment to balancing the enrollment figures so that PPS does't have 4 high schools and 10 elementary schools half full while other schools are jammed. Some schools HAVE to be closed. K thru 8 was the norm years ago until the "middle school fad" swept the country. Now dozens of major districts are returning to K thru 8 because many believe it's actually better for the kids. One more fad by the education elite that was tried and is now being tossed out.

The PPS enrollment decline is real and there are too many class rooms for the number of students there are in the district....and that student population is continuing to drop. Two HS should be closed.....probably five elementary and 5 middle schools need to be combined into a single school. Then take take another look in 3 years.
Closures should be done with political blinders on (close Jefferson down!). Closure decisions made (or not made) because they are "politically correct" will likely be bad ones.

Above all...there is no room for politcal cowards. Bless each school board member with some courage in their heart to coexist with their thoughtful intellect.

Actually, I don't think that school choice has caused the school crisis - in fact, I think you'd find that it keeps parents/kids in PPS who might have otherwise gone elsewhere.

There is data available on a school by school basis that shows where the students come from (or where they go) - for 2005, for example, Irvington had 73 students transfer into the school from elsewhere in the district (out of a total population of 473), while 29 children transferred out to other PPS schools. (Note that what's not captured here are the kids who choose other options outside of PPS).

A quick glance at other schools (data's available here on a school by school basis: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools-c/profiles/enrollment/) reveals that Buckman, for example, captures 80% of its neighborhood kids (all neighborhood kids have an automatic entry into Buckman); Fernwood captures 63% of its neighborhood kids; and Humboldt captures only 56% of their neighborhood kids, with 36% choosing to go to other PPS neighborhood school; another 7% choosing charters/special focus programs.

And let's also not forget that under No Child Left Behind, children can transfer to another school if their school is deemed an underperformer - even if we wanted to restrict transfers, the federal government has determined for us that we can't totally close the doors.

Really? I was kind of thinking that Super Vicki did it deliberately -- kind of a trial balloon. Whoever did it was very egalitarian, having alerted the WW yesterday afternoon and giving the O enough time to draw up maps and everything.

That's possible. But her comments today indicated a certain degree of backing-away-from-that-idea, which is why I assumed it was someone other than her who leaked the info.

Close Jefferson. Close Roosevelt. No way!

Close Benson and move the technology to the neighborhood where it could serve the most neighborhood kids. It is my understanding that that school is Jefferson. Benson is the only Portland Public High School that is NOT considered a neighborhood high school.

If Benson is so great, it should be able to be great anywhere. Right?

I don't think so.
To the best of my knowledge Benson High school is a unique school in the district--if not the entire state. Its vocational program has wood shops, a sheet metal shop, a machine shop, a pattern making shop, a foundry (!!!), automotive shops, electrical/electronics shops, computer labs, a drafting program, a fluid dynamics shop, etc. Not to mention the health occupation department and all its related spaces/equipment. Hard to imagine that this equipment could be moved and fit into a building not designed specifically for it. And at what cost?

Adding to the Benson points here... The 'tech' in Benson was a response to the need for skilled technical labor in the area, especially post-WWII... think about the workers needed at the shipyards, BPA, Army Corps of Engineers, not to mention the other obvious trades.

It's really striking to compare this with the attitudes towards schools today. It's the "three R's" or nothing for some folks... shop class, music, and civics class have been relegated to luxury status.

1 -- K-8 has a track record, sure, one that ended in the 50's. What worked with kids then is not a proven model for what will work today.

Putting them in K-8 will not result in a clamor of youthful voices begging us to bring back Ozzie and Harriet... (Yeah yeah, we don't want no Simpson's, we want "Father Knows Best")

Our son went to Abernethy Elementary when it shared space with the Environmental Middle School. There were constant problems with "unfortunate" interactions between the middle school kids, and the elementary kids. And, the kids at the Environmental Middle School were, uh, perhaps, not the roughest middle-schoolers you might get... And, they were kept as separate as possible.

There were elementary students who stopped using the bathroom fer christ's sake -- because of harassment.

Then, when our kids were getting ready for middle school we parents, who had all planned to send our darlings to the Enviro school, were faced with massive insurrection -- the kids refused -- they hated, yes, hated, "that school" "those kids" and refused, in a most amazing mobilized fashion (there were no outriders) to go there. So, we all traipsed up to Hosford Middle School, many of the parents looking shell-shocked...

It worked out just fine. I don't think a one of us regrets it. Hosford is a classic 21st century neighborhood middle school, small, with great language programs and a diverse student body -- teachers who know every child and watch over them all. It's a great school.

Putting kids in mega-schools may lower the cost of admin and such, but no one has ever shown it to improve student achievement. I don't care if it means you can afford an art teacher. If that teacher has 600+ students, do you really think he/she will know any of them? Where do you see the value-added in such a factory?

Hi again.

The leak: Don't know who leaked it and it was not Vicki or her senior staff. At this point, what does it matter? This draft K-8 scenario staff pepared is out there and everyone gets to debate it, and that will help improve whatever recommendations Vicki eventually makes come the beginning of April.

High schools: This was a K-8 scenario, and as such didn't affect the high schools. There are several options: merging high schools, leaving them alone, or giving the newly restructured ones (Roosevelt, Jeff, Marshall, and Madison with its small learning communities) a chance to improve enrollment and achievement for a few years before re-opening the discussion. There are so many factors to consider. Some of you have mentioned politics, or the unique tech facilities at Benson (altho some equipment is getting rather old). Or geography: look at a map and you'll see that Jefferson and Roosevelt aren't really as "nearby" as one person suggested, and neither are Madison and Marshall. Other factors to consider might be the age of the buildings (Jefferson and Franklin both need overhauls, Madison and Marshall are actually "newer" for PPS). And then there are the kids who live in the neighborhood. Even if they don't choose to attend their nhood school, there are 1,900 high school kids in the Jeff area, about 1,500 in Franklin or Marshall. Do those kids deserve to have the district at least try to offer them a school worth attending IN their neighborhood? All these issues are worth debating.

"Big" schools: Most of these proposals could mean schools in the 450-600 range. I don't think that's a "huge warehouse environment" as Jack calls it, but then my kids are at Laurelhurst, which is a wonderful community, an excellent school, and, this year, 580-students strong. That larger student body and larger staff are part of why we have fulltime music, pe, librarian and parttime counseling, reading specialist.

SW schools: Rieke would form a K-8 with the neighboring Robert Gray, and Stephenson in the draft proposal would move into Jackson for a K-8. Neither would impact Markham, which did absorb most of the kids from Smith this year.

Sorry for the length of the post! More background info should be posted by early next week at www.pps.k12.or.us

Sarah Carlin Ames wrote
"but then my kids are at Laurelhurst, which is a wonderful community, an excellent school, and, this year, 580-students strong. That larger student body and larger staff are part of why we have fulltime music, pe, librarian and parttime counseling, reading specialist."

I get it. You make sure to keep enrollment up and all the good programs going where your kids attend.


"You make sure to keep enrollment up and all the good programs going where your kids attend."

Yeah, it's all one big conspiracy. OK then..

Charlie, growing up I knew quite a few students who took part in reciprocity agreements to attend schools outside of their respective districts. That was in east county - out your way. It's been a few years so I don't know what the situation is like now but I would assume it hasn't changed much. I don't think reciprocity is exactly the same as Portland's "choice" but it's certainly similar --- so I wouldn't call it strictly a Portland phenomenon.

Combining Robert Gray and Rieke would give you a school of almost 800. Combining Stephenson and Jackson gets you over 1100 kids. (Jackson alone has 773 kids). That doesn't look like 450-600, to me.

Compounding the problem, the ratio at both would be about 1/3 elementary and 2/3 middle school.

"Do those kids deserve to have the district at least try to offer them a school worth attending IN their neighborhood?"

Why does this reasoning not apply to elementary and middle schoolers as well?

At the SWNI Schools Committee meeting last night, a committee member who atended the entirety of the PPS Board meeting on the 13th at Markham Elementary quoted PPS Board Co Chair Bobbie Reagan (Sp?) as making opening remarks bemoaning the "complete disinvestment" in PPS by the community.


Last I looked, state government was still sending beaucoup bucks to PPS; so, too, was the County, in the form of property taxes collected last November from my real estate taxes. And from the last of the I-tax, which I wll pay on the 17th of March.

What "complete disinvestment"?

Its just this sort of drama queen hysterics by Reagan and the other "school supporters" which has eroded the credibility of PPS' board and the PPS administration.

Resources are not infinite, and PPS board, administration and staff, but mose especially PPS parents have to recognize that the current spending model is not sustainable.

Small schiols are going to be closed. Class sizes are going up.

Anne D.,

Sorry about your kids' experience at Abernethy/Enviro but it sounds like other dynamics were at work besides just having K-5's with 6-8's. I doubt you can justify extrapolating the negatives of that weird situation to any and all K-8 schools, however large. Any more than your generalized characterization of support for K-8's as some out-of-touch longing for the 50's.

Middle schools in general in Portland have a not so hot "proven record" educationally which leads one to ask; why? Yours (Hosford) turned out great, what's the secret?

What's the realistic solution... "classic 21st century neighborhood middle school(s)..." for everyone?

Maybe one model is destined to become a classic, but 2006 is is little too early to tell.

How much? How soon? Who shares in the cost?

Ms Ames....I appreciate the time and energy you dedicate to the PPS as a member of their board. I also find it refreshing that you have a willingness to participate in this discussion.

As far as your statement that the Jefferson area has 1900 HS age students that are deserving of a HS in their neighborhood:

There are only 650 out of 1900 possible students attending Jefferson? WOW. I had no idea it was that bad. Obviously the families in the area have written off good ol' Jefferson even though the district has tossed huge dollars down that rat hole over the past two decades. If the political heat is too hot to close it then tell the community activists and ranting ministers in that area they can run Jeff as a charter school.

It seems with the current budget realities parents can't have it both ways! Either eliminate the out of control "choice" program for parents or tell them to stop stressing about neighborhood schools and accept closure of the low enrollment facilites.

If the No Child Left Behind nonsense requires parents be given a choice of another school then CLOSE the dysfunctional school that under performed, put the administrators AND teachers responsible for the failing school through a VERY rigorous performance review to determine which ones under performed and give the culprits pink slips. If performance of the staff isn't the problem then censure the parents who failed their little darlings and go on with one less school.

Again, thanks for your service to the community!

Why are you folks so cranked up about schools of 450-800 students? Is it just the size of the schools, in that they're not able to handle the students? Or an aversion to large numbers?
My high school graduating class had 807 students; many of the neighboring high schools were in the 700-800 range, with some near 900. The total size of the schools was often in the 2200-2500 range. The schools were (and are) far better than the schools in Portland. There's nothing wrong with "mega schools" per se; you guys have something else screwed up in Portland.

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie,

There you go applying real-world standards to PPS. Logical arguments like yours are just not applicable here. Performance reviews - hah!. Don't you know all the problems at PPS are the fault of stingy, selfish, conservative taxpayers who HATE KIDS! Politicians say more taxes would solve everything... and the band played on.


Your personal experiences aside, review this: http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/10/c020.html

It is a "metareview" of research on the impact of school size.

The findings are pretty clear. Larger schools are not cheaper; they result in no better (1/2 the studies) and worse (the other 1/2) academic performance; show higher levels of negative social behavior; lower attendance and higher dropout rates.

"The leak: Don't know who leaked it and it was not Vicki or her senior staff. At this point, what does it matter?" - post earlier by PPS rep.

Less than a week has gone by since this newscycle and this explanation was in most yellow tubs curbsite Monday morning. In less than a week it doesn't seem to concern the author to even try to id the leaker.

Incongruent example A: Portland residents holding the same unquestioning acceptance of a similar statement(s), heard in defense of a leak (using same language and/or logic connected therewith): Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, et al.

Hep square this up: citizens trust one public source with this explanation (based on their word), but what changes to not to trust another public source (based on their word) when both employ the same dismissive "at this point, what does it matter"?

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