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Benson, Jefferson drawing students

Lottery will decide who gets to attend Benson in 2011-12
by: L.E. BASKOW Benson’s overall enrollment has been reduced to 800 students this fall as part of the high school redesign effort.

There's so much interest in Benson Polytechnic High School that Portland Public Schools will hold a lottery for incoming freshmen.

According to preliminary data by the district's enrollment office, 290 eighth-graders listed Benson as their first choice for the fall. Just 240 slots are available.

In past years, 400 spaces were open for freshmen, but the Portland School Board decreased Benson's overall enrollment to 800 this fall as part of the high school redesign effort.

Some of Benson's career-technical education subjects may be offered at the community comprehensive schools instead.

Across town, Jefferson's new Middle College for Advanced Studies program is also drawing high interest. As part of the redesign effort, students who live within Jefferson's boundaries now get to choose whether to enroll at Jefferson or their neighboring community comprehensive high school.

Two thirds of the incoming freshmen (102) chose Jefferson, while 54 chose Madison, Grant or Roosevelt.

In addition, another 40 students from elsewhere in the district chose to transfer into Jefferson as their first choice.

That means Jefferson's incoming freshman class will number between 140 and 170 this year, since more freshmen may yet end up at Jefferson if they don't receive their first or second choices in the districtwide lottery.

Whatever the final numbers, one thing is certain: Long-struggling Jefferson is poised for a rebound. In the current school year, Jefferson has just 115 freshmen, out of a total enrollment of 415.