The Portland School Board voted Monday night to end the K-5 magnet program at Ockley Green preK-8 School — while still not calling it a “school closure.”

The district is instead calling it a merger with nearby Chief Joseph Elementary, since the new program will operate on both campuses.

The new K-8 school will open this fall.

That was the revised recommendation made by Superintendent Carole Smith just two weeks ago, after listening to input on her original recommendation during the Jefferson Cluster Enrollment Balancing process.

Ockley Green has long been underenrolled, and Chief Joseph is crowded. Other schools in the Jefferson cluster also have too many or too few students for their buildings, according to the district, but those schools are not affected by this change.

The board also set in motion a move for ACCESS Academy this fall, allowing the school — for the district's most gifted students — a larger space for room to expand.

ACCESS been sharing space with Sabin PK-8 School, which is also at capacity.

It had been proposed that ACCESS now co-locate with King School, which is underenrolled, but now the district says the new location will be determined in time for the 2013-14 school year.

Of the Ockley Green-Chief Joseph merger, Smith says: “This recommendation honors the high value our community has placed on stability. At the same time, it gives us an opportunity to partner with schools to increase enrollment and support strong and equitable programs at all grades, and to partner with the community to change the story of schools in the Jefferson cluster.”

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