School District accepts Inner Southeast neighbors' plan

Llewellyn Elementary, other schools, to remain open
by: Eric Norberg, A bouquet of balloons by the door quietly expresses the joy of staff, parents, and students at Llewellyn Elementary School in Westmoreland that their school WILL remain open for years to come.

In the May BEE, we reported Portland Public Schools Superintendent Vicki Phillips' plan to close one of six Inner Southeast schools as an efficiency, and due to its lower enrollment, the school in the crosshairs appeared to be Westmoreland's Llewellyn Elementary School.

When an outcry developed, we reported that Phillips challenged Inner Southeast to pick the school to close, or to find an alternative that would eliminate the problem. In a series of 'neighborhood conversations' held at Sellwood Middle School, a plan from the neighborhoods affected began to coalesce: Redrawing the boundaries of service for the elementary schools involved, to provide for sufficient growth in enrollment to keep them all open.

On Monday, October 23rd, the Portland School Board voted unanimously to accept the neighborhood plan, and as a result, none of the affected schools is now faced with closure. 'The plan will allow both Lewis and Llewellyn elementary schools to increase their enrollment closer to 400 students, a size the school district considers sustainable and better able to offer a well-rounded curriculum,' said the school district in a statement.

The statement continues, 'The approved plan will shift students from Woodmere and Whitman elementary schools into Lewis and among Duniway, Lewis, and Llewellyn, to build Llewellyn's enrollment. The proposal meets the school district's underlying goal of stronger schools without closing a school building. The plan was submitted four weeks before the deadline, on September 18.'

The boundary changes apply to newly-enrolling students: kindergarten students, and those moving into the area. Students already attending a school may continue in that school through the highest grade offered. The shift in elementary school attendance areas also affects middle school and high school assignments, allowing groups of students to stay together throughout their K-12 education, the school board pointed out.