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PPS chief unveils district boundary-change plan

Board to vote next week on shift back to middle schools


The Portland Public Schools board is preparing to take on one of the most significant challenges of the year: districtwide school boundary changes. SCREENSHOT: PPS.NET - Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith delivers her boundary-change proposal to the school board, including board member Julie Esparza Brown, March 29.

Superintendent Carole Smith presented her final recommendations to the school board Tuesday evening, which included changes to nearly 50 schools and buildings in a bid to convert many kindergarten-to-eighth-grade schools back into elementary and middle schools.

The school board now will consider the superintendent’s proposal, plus public testimony from a Wednesday, March 30 hearing, and vote at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, April 5.

School board member Amy Kohnstamm says she wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more tweaks, but overall she has been pleased with the monthslong public discussion leading up to the superintendent’s proposal.

“I think it’s been a positive, iterative process,” Kohnstamm says. “The thing that’s difficult (is) determining the timing of the reconfiguration of the eastside schools.”

She notes that the focus now needs to be on planning for a smooth transition back to a K-5 model.

After budget cuts begun in 2003, many in the community feel the district consolidated schools into K-8s too hastily.

“That lack of planning had a long-lasting effect and it had a poor effect on students,” Kohnstamm says.

The newly designated middle schools — Ockley Green, Roseway Heights and Tubman — will start a community planning process at the end of April. Other meetings will be announced as the process continues over the next two years.

Here are a few of the major changes in the superintendent’s proposal. View the complete list and more details online at the PPS website.

  • Beach, Chief Joseph, Peninsula and Woodlawn would become K-5 buildings in fall 2016, with students attending Ockley Green for middle school. More boundary changes will be needed by January 2017 to make room at Chief Joseph.
  • Boise-Eliot/Humboldt, King, Sabin and Irvington would convert to K-5s in 2017 and middle-grade students would attend the new Tubman Middle School, after Faubion students move back to their soon-to-be-built building.
  • Also in the 2017-18 school year, Rose City Park, Scott, Vestal and Lee would open as neighborhood K-5 schools feeding into the new Roseway Heights Middle School. Officials hope to relieve overcrowding at Beverly Cleary K-8 School with the new Rose City Park Elementary, allowing Beverly Cleary to again fit on the Hollyrood and Fernwood campuses.
  • ACCESS Academy would move to now-vacant Humboldt School in fall 2017.
  • To relieve overcrowding at Chapman, four kindergarten classes will move to the Ramona apartment building next fall, and boundary changes will send some students to neighboring schools.
  • Lincoln High School’s feeder patterns will change in fall 2017, with options to join Wilson High School’s catchment sooner.
  • Spanish Immersion stays at Ainsworth, with native Spanish speakers given half of the kindergarten slots.
  • Odyssey K-8 School would move to East Sylvan next fall, with boundary changes in the Bridlemile, Maplewood and Rieke areas making up for the vacant chairs at Hayhurst.
  • PPS would prepare to reopen Smith School as a K-5 by fall 2019.
  • César Chavez (K-8) School, Beverly Cleary (K-8) School and Metropolitan Learning Center (K-12) are untouched in the current recommendations but Smith says their configurations are still under consideration in future processes.


    Shasta Kearns Moore
    Reporter
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