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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Portland is completely off its rocker now

Story 1 is here.

Story 2 is here.


Comments (47)

You just don't get it. The point of the Pearl school, and the lease, is to reward and protect a property developer. The school days? Well, you've got to cut back on teaching so that there's money to pay the administrators. It all makes perfect sense.

Apples and oranges.

follow the money trail........ now all they need is their own special streetcar painted school bus yellow.....

a simpler question might be "why is that *other* neighborhoods, many with far more children and more immediate need, can't get such a school, or even adequate budget?

but that's a rhetorical question. this project is in a nexus of power brokering, back-scratching rewards, and publicity pimping.

shame on all of them. but unfortunately, after seeing the Sam Adams debacle, shame and remorse appear to be out-of-date concepts.

Tonight the Portland Schools Foundation has its annual event called "The Roast Festival" to try and patch some of the holes in school funding.
Remember the line about schools getting the money they need while the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale?
In Portland, the Military Industrial complex is the Transit Developer complex, but instead of a leader like Ike warning us of the threat to our fiscal stability, we have politicians crawling into bed with it at every turn.

"Mincberg said the school program can help the district capture more families and retain young families that might leave for cheaper housing and more space in the suburbs."

So how, exactly, is the presence of this convenience school (or Quickieschool, 7/11 mart school, take your pick) going to retain families that can no longer afford to live in the Pearl or have outgrown their living space?

Nobody has mentioned Ainsworth which is also within driving and commuting distance or the other various specialty and magnet schools in or near the downtown area.

C'mon, at least the kids will be closed to the stadia where they can snag one of those 300+ prime jobs Paulson is promising.

On the surface, it sounds like a builder bailout.

I want to know how they came up with their population estimates.

I chuckle to myself thinking Mayor McCreepy sent Roland Chlapowski out on the streets to count strollers. The resulting PowerPoint would have more slides than the school will have students.

All Chlapowski would have to do is set up in the golden triangle outside the "Little Urbanites" store on the streetcar line, across the street from Jamison Square and a half block away from Starbucks.

Just don't photograph any food.

In 1990 and 2000, the Pearl District had the fewest babies born compared with other close-in neighborhoods, Multnomah County figures show. But the numbers have inched upward from 16 births in 2000 to 47 births in 2007. Demographers estimate about 250 kids live in the neighborhood.

Do demographers have a sense of what % of these kids are currently attending Catlin, OES, Central Catholic, or St. Mary's?

This is a gross generalization, of course, but the fact is that kids are expensive, and owning a condo in an expensive part of town that has room for kids is even more expensive. I'm going to guess that the families in the Pearl who have kids are, for the most part, doing pretty well. Do we have any idea whether or not these parents would send their kids to a public school, in the Pearl or anywhere else?

Some poor disadvantaged children will need to be imported, so the Pearlettes will be properly educated.

Why are these goals (listed below) in the area of responsibility of the Portland Public Schools?

She said the project wasn't put on a fast track but there was an opportunity for the district to be part of shaping the future of the Pearl and strengthening it as a family-friendly area.

Why does the school district care what areas of town are chosen by families? Has the PPS does an analysis of how efficiently high quality education services can be delivered under different residential scenarios? On what basis are they concluding that it is good for educational attainment in the PPS that the Pearl be a family friendly area?

Mincberg said the school program can help the district capture more families and retain young families that might leave for cheaper housing and more space in the suburbs.

Is there evidence that this is happening? Would families be more likely to stay in the District if they had affordable, family friendly options in the City as opposed to staying in a highly dense environment for a few more years until their children enter 4th grade, at which point they'll leave regardless? Would we retain more families if they moved to, and sunk roots in, longstanding family neighborhoods?

Board member Ruth Adkins said ultimately the new school program is an opportunity for the district and city leaders to get out of their "silos" and start working together in a more strategic way.

To what degree does the PPS board believe it is in their jurisdiction to get involved in planning and development issues? What expertise do they rely upon when they make these decisions?

We bailed out of North Portland to flee Portland Schools 12 years ago. The Willamette Blvd area has now been revitalized with the Yellow Line. Happy to be in the Burbs.

Ruth Adkins is a bozo on the level of Saint Amanda.

Far better that Ms. Adkins actually recognize the ongoing dirt the city incessently deals PPS.

Expansion of the Pearl Urban Renewal area has stolen a lot more property tax dollars from PPS, and the City has the gall to spend a major portion of those stolen tax dollars on a school for the David Douglas District.

Sort of like Adams theft of SoWhat / North Macadam SDCs intended for surface street construction to fund Milwaukie light rail.

The insanity in PDX never stops.

I too wanted to be able to walk my child to and from elementary school. So I found a place within walking distance of the school. It never occurred to me that I might be able to do the reverse: live where I pleased and demand that the school district provide a school my child could walk to.


In my humble opinion as a parent and a taxpayer, PPS sucks.

When we move from this city, PPS may be the #1 reason.

I agree,ecohuman. It just makes me shudder. And even worse than the power bozos are their cheerleaders in the press other Portland institutions.

If critics go through enough cr*p in this town, they lose the heart to even want to talk about it.

Let me start this by saying many teachers I had during my pubic education made a lasting and positive impression on me, they do work hard, kind of crazy hours and have to deal with parents (that alone should be worth their salary). I also have a brother in law who is a high school teacher and an aunt and uncle who were teachers. That being said, something needs to be done about their benefits and pensions. Everyone complains about the Auto workers and their benefit package and salaries but teachers aren't far off in the benefits department, pay may be another story but I'm not sure.

The system basically needs to reset and renegotiate because it can't afford this madness. Same goes for all public employees. We have a friend who retired at 52 from a Principal position with a full pension. We adore this individual but that benefit is outrageous. We're shortchanging everyones future if we don't do something about this immediately.

One more thing, they need to have a ballot measure that reverses the property tax measure on buildings in the Pearl to help offset property tax revenues, the fact that that measure was renewed/extended is absurd.

What does $300K per year beginning in 2011 in an area without an elementary school, have to do with a $10mil shortfall in 2009, spurred in part not by Portland but by a recalcitrant governor?

A few bloggers over on Oregonlive are claiming that most of the buildings in the Pearl are paying their full property taxes thus the Pearl deserves a school. They claim that only the historical buildings or condos in historical buildings are paying less property taxes. They are certainly misinformed and they are the ones that need to get their facts straight.

Over 65% of new buildings receive TOD dollars with tax abatements and close to 80% of old and new get some tax benefits. The affordable housing buildings and those units in mix-economic levels receive tax abatements. The list goes on.

darn them for back-scratching a guy who develops affordable housing for a living.

oh, and darn them for testing demand for a public school in a neighborhood where the number of families in affordable housing is increasing.

darn them for back-scratching a guy who develops affordable housing for a living.

wrong. in fact, not even close.

oh, and darn them for testing demand for a public school in a neighborhood where the number of families in affordable housing is increasing.

again dead wrong, my friend.

in fact, the number of school-age children in the Pearl District is much closer to about 50-60. planners in Portland know this, if they're familair with the area. a few years or so ago, there were so few that they could be counted exactly. I think it was about 22.

and the amount of "affordable housing" is, in fact, miniscule, and *not* meaningfully growing.

Watch for the Pearl soccer parents to gerrymander the district boundary for their school so that most of the kids who live in "affordable housing" won't be attending. That's what the Rieke parents did years ago. The kids who lived in the apartments on the other side of SW Bertha Street had to spend 45 minutes on a schoolbus to get to Hayhurst, instead of walking across the street to Rieke.

They're going to name it Randy Gragg School.

Somebody told me that the insanity from the PPS Board around property and development is fueled by some kind of hybrid consultant/advisory committee they spun off when nobody was looking. Of course, those people have vested interests like "consulting fees" that amount to thinly veiled commissions on all these give-aways that should never be occurring. Guess what?!? They recommend lots of deals that net out with PPS (the commons) poorer and them and their drinking buddies richer! Gosh! How about that?

According to my informant, PPS has even paid something in five figures to one of these hybrid adviser/consultant types to secretly sell Washington HS to a private buyer (bets on a sub-market price!), in spite of years of planning and public promises that it would be turned into the Inner SE Community Center.

"We did it before, and obviously it didn't work"??

It was intended to allow the schools to stay open, which it did.

Really with this kind of blatant BS
what is the public supposed to think?

It's for the kids?


"Portland teachers worked two weeks without pay as part of an agreement to keep Portland schools open in 2003.
But they won't do that again this year, says Rebecca Levison, president of the Portland Association of Teachers. "We did it before, and obviously it didn't work. It doesn't solve the problem of adequate and stable funding for education."
And school district leaders aren't keen on the idea either."

They're going to name it Randy Gragg School.

And the school uniform will be a black turtle neck.

Eco -

I only quickly read the article, but doesn't it cite "demographers," whatever their qualifications may be, estimate that there are around 250 kids in the Pearl? I'd like to hear more about contrary data if you have any - that stat sounds pretty vague.

Thanks in advance if you have anything more specific.


it's a bit complicated, but in short-the "demographers" are fudging mightily.

the problem's twofold--first, counting of the Pearl often counts various areas *outside* the Pearl (west of 405, etc). second, nobody know how many of the children born in the Pearl actually remain there. popular wisdom says--not many.

so, demographers often don't match reality, especially at this level of detail.

in other words--despite a)knowing there are almost certainly very few kids in the Pearl, but (b)not knowing precisely *how* many, the story Jack referenced shows decision-makers charging ahead.

in other, other words--decisions aren't being made based on data or need--they're being made based on politics.

and, nevermind the explicit intention of Pearl development to be for people other than families. city planners, commissioners and developers have said so, repeatedly. now, there's a bit of square-peg-in-round-hole retrofitting being attempted. that's not necessarily bad, but it shows, once again, the lack of thoughtfulness and vision in how we try and "plan" Portland.

With the continuing decline in the number of students in School District No. 1, and the need to close more schools, it's more efficient to make some areas of the city family-unfriendly, to encourage parents to congregate near schools instead of away from them.

What they also fail to mention is what happens to these kids after grade 3 or 4? Where do they go to school then? This is a ridiculous expense especially after they've closed several small schools on the other side of the river.

I know so many teachers who say "build smaller, more numerous community schools instead of large, monolithic, expensive schools. it'll make us more flexible and reduce the massive costs and risk of building mega-schools. it'll make us more part of the community instead of being a big box where people send their kids to be stored during work hours."

i agree with them. i think we're doing it backwards.

I agree, my children attend such a school. But PPS had similar schools and closed them in N. Portland. Now they want to build a school for 50 kids? Most of whom will probably attend private anyway?

Let's assume eco's higher number of 60 children. First question, are they of school ages of between first and sixth grade, or from birth to 18? Second, how many of the parents would prefer to enroll their children in the existing Charter School up the street, or in nearby NW Portland public schools with a playground and more programs, or in a Montessori school or religion based school?

After those questions are answered, then let's assume that maybe 42 students for grades 1 thru 6 remain. Does it make economic sense to have classes for each grade of 7 students? No, especially now with the economy and even in normal times.

Perhaps it will be named Breedlove Elementary.

I should add--I support the smaller school idea, but the subject of this post is a politically driven project--and wouldn't be what I'd call a "small" school.

According to the PPS website (www.pps.k12.or.us), Chapman Elementary had 532 students enrolled in 2008.

The Chapman neighborhood student population is/was 506 elementary school-aged children.

Out of those 506 children, 427 attended Chapman (84% of neighborhood children). There were 105 transfer students (students from other neighborhoods) attending Chapman (approximately 20% of the student body count of 532).

There is in fact room at Chapman for Pearl District children, or can be. While not necessarily desirable or popular, Lincoln High School stopped accepting transfer students in 2004 in order to reduce overcrowding. This might be a solution for Chapman and one that will also benefit other neighborhood schools by increasing their enrollment.

With this hopefully correct information, PPS has Chapman within 12 to 14 blocks of center of the Pearl. It has two Metro Learning Centers 6 and 8 blocks from the Pearl,and a Montessori School and Charter School funded by PPS right there. It is hard to see the need.

Is this proposal just to get a tenant for the ground floor for a new building to help a developer? Remember that the city likes to copy the planning in Vancouver BC where the developers offered and did provide the schools necessary for the English and Burrard Bay inner city neighborhood. Why not here since it was mentioned many times in the planning of The Pearl?

What, they can't go to MLC or Chapman? More public schools, and therefore more public employees?

People who are wealthy enough to live in the Pearl probably would send their kids to private school, anyway.

Melton's original article on this topic says the demographers who originated the '250 kids' number are from PSU. So let's assume they were using census tracts. The tracts that include the Pearl also include a stretch of blocks west of 1-405.

Given that families in the Pearl are a relatively recent phenomenon, Ecohuman's estimate of 50 - 60 school age children could be accurate. And odds are that they're young school age children.

Seems like the big questions are: how many school age children will there be in fall 2011, and how many will go to a public neighborhood school?

So let's assume they were using census tracts.

undoubtedly, and likely ACS data. there is no actual count of children.

Seems like the big questions are: how many school age children will there be in fall 2011, and how many will go to a public neighborhood school?

no, not really. established schools already serve the area. it's a red herring to say they're not "close" enough, especially given the simple stats of housing in the Pearl--much of it is one-bedroom and studio units, and families can *rarely* afford to buy and remain there.

Many of the private schools are at full capacity. In the past, you had to enroll your child in preschool at some of them (Catlin and OES) or your child would end up competing for the one or two spots in each grade (or none) that would open up each year. Perhaps the economic downturn will change this, but people who did not have the foresight to register their children for private school shortly after birth or who moved to Portland with a school-age child are pretty much out of luck.

I think this may be part of what is driving this proposal. It's not just that Chapman is not walking distance from the Pearl, or that it's crowded. It's that the Pearl parents don't want to settle for Chapman because there aren't enough openings in the private schools or charter schools, and it's potluck with the lottery system for transfers to other neighborhood schools.

Who says Chapman "is not walking distance from the Pearl"? 12 to 14 blocks is walkable. I use to walk from my place on NW Marshall to work at Standard Plaza across from City Hall in 25 to 30 minutes. The distance to Chapman is less than 1/3rd that distance. So children with a group parent could easily walk the distance in 10 to 15 minutes. Think of it as free PE. There's sidewalks all the way, and aren't we the "Walkable City" and that's what Sam wants to promote?

A few years back PPS wanted to close our neighborhood school. Their data (we were never told exactly where they got it, even though we asked)seemed wrong. So our NA association did an actual count and came out about 25% more than PPS's count. They still closed the school. There counting swings both ways.

I am getting FED UP with PPS and their spending! We are working with out a contract during a budget crisis. They say we don't work a 40 hour week. BS! I'm in early, I stay late, I work through chunks of my "duty free" lunch, and I get NO breaks. I have to call the office to have someone cover my class if I need to pee. I've even had to BEG during an emergency... Now they want me to work for free. Who does that?! Then if we say no, we are the bad guys because of the boo hoo poor children. What about my children?! They need food on their plates and a roof over their heads and I can't do that if I work for free.

Blogers, I challenge you to look into the spending of PPS. The REAL spending of PPS. Specifically the "Reach Kits," who made the decision to spend the $1100+ per k-2 classroom the year before adopting a new district wide curriculum, and who owns the company.

Remember, District Office may only take up 4% of budget, but their decisions affect the other 96% of us and our spending! Oh, and don't forget to buy your local teacher a drink. We need it.

PO'd Teacher - What are "Reach Kits?"

Can you give us some hints about the company and the owner? Thanks.

Just know that Reading Matters to PPS. That is why we adopted Scott Foresman with all of its components and we use it with fidelity!

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