Preserving Jefferson High School and its rich tradition - one that stretches back nearly a century - is a highly worthy objective for Portland Public Schools.

We believe the latest changes at Jefferson Campus, as it now is called, offer hope for a school that has had moments of excellence over the past 98 years, but whose reputation has been tattered due to low achievement scores and poor public perception.

Portland school administrators are correct to persevere with Jefferson, but also to try new approaches for the sake of Jefferson students and the Northeast Portland community it primarily serves.

Starting in September, the small-school concept at Jefferson will be expanded from the two current academies of art and technology and science and technology to include two more academies - one for boys and one for girls.

Heading up the four academies will be a 'dream team' of four administrators, featured in the Feb. 27 Portland Tribune, who arrive at the school with solid credentials, plenty of enthusiasm and lofty expectations.

Some people may grumble that the group, which will report to campus Principal Leon Dudley, is too expensive, or that the school district is wasting money trying to save a school that's performed poorly in the recent past.

But we don't think those objections ought to deter school officials from their current course. In education, as in any profession, you have to pay not only for excellence, but also for the around-the-clock dedication that will be required to transform Jefferson.

It will take more than a first-rate administrative team to improve Jefferson. It will require well-trained teachers, involved parents, students committed to learning and the focused commitment of Superintendent Vicki Phillips.

We are very hopeful that the dedication and cooperative participation of these partners will make Jefferson once again an urban leader in academic achievement.

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