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High school proposed changes announced tonight

As we listened to the announcement about changes to Portland Public Schools high schools from Carole Smith, PPS Superintendent tonight, we noted our thoughts and reactions. Please add yours in the comment section below.

The proposed changes to high schools were made with what Carole Smith called "an incredible opportunity for neighborhoods to reinvest in high schools." In talks with stakeholders, the common theme was "I want the whole thing [all the comprehensive core classes plus well-rounded electives plus engaging extracurriculars] and I want it close to home." These changes are to be effective in Fall 2011, after a process of community feedback and a chance for board debate. The final vote will be on June 21.

The way this is being created, Smith hopes, is through a series of "community comprehensive schools" whose boundaries have been slightly changed to better maintain the "cluster" approach to elementary, middle and high schools. These will be mostly as we all expected: Cleveland, Franklin, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Roosevelt and Wilson. Each will have things for which parents and students have asked from all schools, like a full advanced placement or international baccalaureate program, a full athletics, dance, and visual and performing arts program, and a lower counselor-to-student ratio.

Marshall, a school that has struggled mightily over the past decade, with at least two very radical approaches to school design, will be closed as it now stands. In its place will be "a new focus school built upon the strengths of PPS small schools would open on the campus to all students districtwide." (I'm not exactly sure what that means: I have taken a quick look at the presentation but would love more color from our commenters.)

Benson, a school that had its heyday in the eighties and early nineties and whose perceived quality and attendance has fallen significantly in the past few decades, will change, as well. "Benson Polytechnic High School would, in fall 2011, become an advanced learning center for career-related and technical learning experiences. 11th- and 12th-grade students across PPS would have the opportunity to apply to spend half their school day or week at Benson and half at their home school, to pursue an in-depth career or technical program."

Transfers will be much more limited than they are today; language immersion programs will be created by 2013 in Spanish (Franklin, Lincoln, Madison, Roosevelt); Japanese (Grant); Mandarin (Cleveland) and Russian (Franklin). Jefferson will offer a dance program. You can look up your address here to see if your neighborhood school(s) will change with the proposed new boundaries.


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My comment? I've already noticed two misspellings on their proposed boundary change page: "boundries" and "senario."

Come ON, PPS. Misspellings from the Board of Ed are inexcusable.

Otherwise, looks like a reasonable plan.

Here is the proposed map (not set in stone yet, of course):


My house's high school boundaries have changed -- but we've also got nine years before high school, so we'll see.

The overall plan seems pretty reasonable, if indeed they work to make all the high schools equitable. Though I'm a proponent of more diverse options for K/8 -- magnets, focus options, immersion programs, etc. -- it seems like a large neighborhood school should ideally have the resources to provide a wide variety of classes for a wide variety of students. Ideally.

(It'd be nice to see the International Baccalaureate program offered at all the high schools, for instance -- right now I believe just Cleveland and Lincoln have it.)

I am glad that you will now have to attend Jefferson High School to be in the dance program vs. open admission. We still have quite a few years before we end up at Jeff but I am thinking about joining the PTA next year to get my voice in the transition.

@William: Yeah, misspelled words on a PPS board website is embarrassing for them, but it has nothing to do with the issues. Stop sweating the small stuff and stick to the real issues at hand.

I think that it is great that PPS listened and is keeping neighborhood schools open.
However, throughout all of the talks that have led us to this point, PPS consistently said that we do not have enough $$ to keep them all open, and provide comprehensive programs at all of those schools. How is it that now, they will remain open and become these mega schools that offer everything? Does PPS have a money tree that they can suddenly pick off of? If so, tell me where it is..I could do some pickin' myself!

As a parent at Richmond Elementary (Japanese Immersion), I'm somewhat relieved that, at least for now, it seems that the Japanese Immersion program will stay as it is; tracking into Mt. Tabor and then Grant. Some of the other options that had been tossed around during this process had included moving to a different school (not that big of a deal, depending on location) or making a 6-12 international school to house all of the immersion programs under one roof. While I could see the benefits of having a school who's primary focus was a global education, I still prefer that my daughter have access to the broader experience of a community high school. After ten years of Japanese, she may, for example, want to join the swim team. When that day comes, I'm hoping she won't have to choose between one or the other.

On a side note, I think it's great that they're limiting Jefferson's dance team to Jefferson students. It always struck me as odd that one of the shining selling points at a school that was struggling to maintain enrollment was open to students at all schools. I hope that this change means more students transferring in and less transferring out.

Spelling *does* have quite a bit to do with the issue when the issue is education, BUT I know it's not central to this particular topic. When they're talking about raising the bar for all students, it's insane that their own documents are riddled with errors.

I agree that keeping Jefferson's dance program is a great idea- I hope it will result in attracting more students. It's curious that there won't be a Spanish Immersion program there - what's the plan for Beach Spanish Immersion students?

My daughter start high school during the 2011-2012 school year, so this feels like "just in time" for us. The plan looks good on paper, but like @Kathy, I'm wondering where the money to support 8 comprehensive high schools will come from. During the community "conversations" leading up to this model, PPS really drove home that it couldn't financially support comprehensive n'hood schools that were below a certain attendance benchmark--and if memory serves, the current plan has at least 2-3 schools that don't meet that benchmark.

That said, I'll do my part to support our neighborhood high school, and the system at large. We are in the Madison neighborhood, and I'm excited at the prospect of improvements there.

I hope that the very vocal parents who cried "not our school" will now turn their energy to making this a smooth and succesful transition for all PPS students.

I had great hopes to see real change in the high schools, but I see the proposed plan as cowardly, with PPS continuing to cater to the wealthy and not making the changes that they said were necessary in order to have more equity throughout all of the schools. They've said all along that in order to provide similar programs at all schools that enrollments need to be around 1350 students. Roosevelt and Jefferson are slated to have 900 students (if there isn't a mass exodus) which is 1/3 less than the target number that the District stated. (Acutally, if PPS were to close either Madison, Roosevelt, or Jefferson, the combined enrollment at the 2 remaining schools would be around 1500 students if no other boundary lines were affected.) How is the District going to afford to sustain these new programs at the struggling schools if they don't have the student population to bring in the budget dollars to provide them, let alone support them once they are in place? If PPS really wants to make changes and provide a more equitable education for all students, socio-economic diversity needs to be addressed, which could easily be done by making some tough choices and modifying a few boundary lines.

If 8 comprehensive schools are approved, Beach Spanish Immersion will go to Roosevelt. The currently smaller High Schools (Jefferson) will have increased funding when more than 21% of residents attend their neighborhood school, plus some boundaries will change to equalize the population. I commend the effort put into this plan and hope for the best. It is odd to think about my kids going to a future Jefferson that is in theory equal to that of Grant. It will be interesting to see how old labels affect the future of these schools.

I think that the stakes are most high for the parents/families who live in the Jefferson cluster. It will take a LOT of work for us to trust that all is good there, and that it will be equal to a Grant or Lincoln campus. There is such a history of people bailing out on this as their neighborhood high school; and with good reason. Hopefully, 'build it and they will come' will work in this case. But if not, many families in the feeder neighborhoods will move (mine included), and then we're back to square one.
I also agree that PPS kind of chickened out on the changes that they were initially talking about. Most of the schools in the district will feel absolutely no impact.

This seems like a reasonable compromise, and like most compromise plans, it makes no one happy. But it makes the fewest people strongly unhappy. I think it's a strength that the plan does not make huge shifts to most of the existing schools. Read through some of the other possible re-designs in the document you can download from the PPS site and you'll get a better idea of what could have happened.

I think the biggest change in this proposal is not making Benson and Marshall into different kinds of schools (read some history on Portland and you'll see that our high schools have been fluid in the last couple of decades) it's the elimination of transfers between neighborhood high schools. If students live in the Jefferson district they will actually--short of entering a language immersion program, a charter school, or going private--attend Jefferson High School. Now, I am not naive enough to think that guarantees the success of Jefferson and I am very nervous about my son going there in a few years, but this is a huge change and I hope the community can use it to move towards success.

I am thinking like Stephanie that I should join the PTA at Jefferson to learn more about the community and support this change rather than trying to wiggle our way out of it.

I also wondered about the enrollment projections. I don't think those 2014 numbers are where the district wants schools to be, just where they think they WILL be in that year. Even if Roosevelt and Jefferson are amazing schools, it will take some time to build good reputations and catch more of their neighborhood populations. Probably for the first few years, more students from those neighborhoods will be already enrolled in other schools, or taking one of the other options--charter, magnet, or private. Certainly more students in those neighborhoods are at risk for dropping out, which affects enrollment numbers more at Jefferson than it does at Lincoln, for example. The Academy for Young Women, currently part of Jefferson although housed off-campus, could potentially become a stand-alone school; it's location, grade-range, and status are not determined in this proposal. But if it were a stand-alone school offering 9-12th grade housed in its current location, it would certainly compete with Jefferson and Roosevelt and lower their enrollment numbers. I think the biggest factor in determining the success of Jefferson and Roosevelt will be whether the district is able to deliver on its promise to offer a full scope of courses and activities at those schools. If they do, and if they maintain the no-neighborhood-transfers policy, then I can easily see the enrollment numbers gradually increasing towards the district's goal

I think Boise-Eliot families are likely to be some of the most upset: we've gone from being a Grant feeder to being a Jefferson feeder. Jefferson is closer, but I suspect there are lots of BE families like ours, who chose the neighborhood specifically for BE and Grant. I want Jefferson to be great, but I really wish we could still feed into Grant.

My first response as a future Jefferson parent is to be hopeful that this will actually make it a school I can get behind. I think the district probably stopped short of a few decisions that would have made this more likely, but I'm willing to get on board and see where this goes. Daisy, I'm not picking on you when I say this, but it's exactly that kind of thing I hope will go away, that families will lose the feeling of wishing they fed into X-school because Y-school will offer just as rich of a program as any other. I hope that by making academic offerings equal across the board, the socio-economic and racial factors that need to be equalized will follow.

As another family in the Boise-Eliot district, we were crushed to read that our kids would now feed into Jefferson rather than Grant. As Boise-Eliot currently has its own fair share of struggles, serves a very diverse group, and has a history of being one of the underpriviledged schools, I can't quite see how transfering these kids into Jefferson (with many of the same struggles) rather that Grant makes things more equitable. To me it seems like it will only make both high schools less diverse and less equitable!

Maybe we need a prospective Jefferson families group? Get to know each other so it won't seem so scary? My son will be in 6th grade next year, so he'll start at Jefferson in 2013 if I'm doing my math right.

I think a Jefferson group is a good call. There is a yahoo group listed on the UM school discussion called 'GetInvolvedWithJeffSchools-subscribe@yahoogroups.com', but the post is from 2008. Does anyone know if this group is still active?

As a future Jeff parent as well I would be interested in any group info

I was very sad to read the report. I was naive and really believed PPS was trying to make changes to get rid of the inequities in the system. I am a Beach parent in the Spanish Immersion program which is slated to go to Roosevelt.
My real concern it the movement of Boise Elliot to Jefferson and then the inclusion of DaVinci and Buckman to Lincoln. How does that make sense? Lets take the only underperforming school in Grant and move it to Jefferson. What about taking Humbolt and BE and moving them to Lincoln?
I would have been more inclined to work with PPS had I really felt they were trying to stay to their mission but now I feel like we were just being fed a bunch of BS. Call me jaded but naive no more.

(For what it's worth, da Vinci kids, who go there from all over the city, won't automatically go to Lincoln, as I read it -- they'll go to their neighborhood high school, which is only Lincoln if they live in the Buckman district. Even kids who live in the Buckman district don't automatically go to da Vinci.)

There's a lot of speculation going on right now -- very understandable. And I'm certainly not pollyanna-ish enough to think that by PPS saying "Now, the high schools will all be equitable!" will make them so. But it seems the district is trying to go in the right direction by aiming to give all of the high schools the same programs and funding, which COULD make a difference in the long run -- if we give it a chance. I do wonder how much of each school's funding will depend on its neighborhood's property-tax intake, or if it'll be more evenly distributed across the district? I didn't see that addressed by PPS last night; I'd like to in the future.

Kim, I hear you, but for some context: just last month we closed on a house, and we quite specifically chose a house that put us in Boise-Eliot/Grant neighborhoods. We are a multiracial family, and I did a lot of research to decide this was the perfect combination for us. We thought long and hard about spending a lot less to buy a house in a Jefferson feeder. We were particularly pleased with the racial composition of both schools, which I felt would work really well for our family. This was not a casual decision at all.

I agree with the other parent who said that taking an underfunded BE and having the mostly minority, poor school feed into Jefferson just doesn't seem to me to serve BE kids best--or help Jefferson be better.

Whoever recommended the GetInvolvedWithJeffSchools yahoo group that is a good idea. There are a lot of people on that group who have been activists in Portland for quite awhile and would be able to provide some history that would be helpful when coming together to support the school. Another resource for this is the Portland Parent Union. As we come together around Jefferson it is really important to know the history first. PPS has a link on their facebook page to a History of Multiculturalism in Portland that is important for every parent in PPS to read. It won't let me post it here.

For what it's worth, schools are not funded based on their neighborhood property values. They are funded from the district (actually from the state level) on a per-student basis. Low-income schools also get federal Title I funds. Sometimes there are supplemental FTEs sent to small schools to help them provide the full range of courses. But the inequities you see don't come straight from neighborhood wealth.

School PTAs can raise large amounts on funds--larger in wealthier and better organized neighborhoods. Those funds can be used to pay for teachers or school improvements. That certainly accounts for some of the inequities.

Others are simply passed down from an era when PPS had more money. If a school was slated for improvements or expansion in the late 80s, well, they got those improvements and still have them. If they were scheduled for the 90s or didn't yet need improvements, chances are they still don't have any.

So while inequities are present and very real, they aren't built into the current funding formula.

I also question annexing BE to Jefferson, but since it looks like my family will be part of Jefferson, I hope we can build on the positive energy that I know has been growing at BE.

Does anyone know when the next PTA meeting at Jefferson will be? Site council?

What really concerns me (and full disclosure here, I have lived in the Jeff/Vernon neighborhood for 12 years, 3 blocks outside of the Grant/Alameda boundary and know that if Jefferson closed that we would be slated to feed into Grant) is that the Superintendent's plan specifically calls out Roosevelt and Jeff as being at risk in this plan, saying that the only way they will work and be equitable to the other schools, due to their low enrollment projections, is for additional Federal and State funding to come through to support these underachieving schools, not because they are underachieving but because they are not projected to have the student population base to support the programs that the District is promising. The plan also states that due to the lower population the schools will average 20 fewer electives than the bigger high schools (and this is including counting on the additional funding). It also calls for massive community support, which I personally don't see a precedent for, considering that there is currently only a 21% capture rating there. I don't think that just by saying "ok, you have to send your kids here" that all of a sudden they're going to have the community (which we all know also equals monetary) support of a Lincoln or a Grant. The Superintendent's plan also says that if the additional funding and community support do not pan out, that the "redesign" will need to be revisited again in a few years, with one of these schools most likely being closed down.

As for the decision to move BE from Grant to Jeff, I think that it makes Grant even more of an elite school. If the District really wanted to make the schools equitable, why not send Alameda, which is overcrowded at over 700 students, to Jeff and keep more diverse schools like BE and Tubman in Grant? I think that the new plan just caters to the wealthy in the District. Walk around the Grant neighborhood. There are pretty specific lines where the "Close the Gap, Keep the Schools" signs are located--all over in the Grant district but very few to none once you cross into the Jeff cluster.

With my rose colored glasses on, I would love to believe that this change will reinvigorate Jefferson and make it into a special place, but with my reality/negativity glasses on, what I'm afraid to see is a lot of the young families who are reinvigorating the area move out of the neighborhood to schools that already have good reputations and don't require the ground-up activism that is needed to make Jefferson a great place.

I'm glad that I still have 10 years before my daughter starts HS to see what happens, although hate to say that if my daughter were starting HS in 2 years instead, we would most likely be looking at moving. It would be a great comfort to know that if my daughter goes to Vernon, our neighborhood school, that there's a stable and challenging neighborhood high school in her future that will provide her with a vigorous education that prepares her both for college and life beyond. Meanwhile, most of what you hear about Jefferson and Roosevelt are about the need for additional programs to support the kids that are behind and have huge challenges in their lives outside of school. Yes, these kids need the additional support, but I don't want to send my child to a school that concentrates on bringing kids up to average rather than accelerating the learning of the kids that are above average.

I hope that there are enough people that have either moved into the area from outside of Portland and don't know the past history or that can look past its current state that these issues do not affect the future of the school. I have ingrained memories of arriving to play a HS basketball game at Jeff and having a police escort our team from the bus to the locker room and then up to the gym, and then again at half time and after the game. Of course this was 20 years ago when I was an impressionable 15 year old and the neighborhoods were much different, but these preconceived notions and experiences are challenges that the community is facing, not to mention the reputation of the current state of the school.

One has to wonder if the District's challenge to the community is just setting it up to fail, especially considering the additional funding that is required to support a school of this size at a time where educational funding is diminishing. I hope there are a lot of dreamers and activists out there who will make the necessary changes happen and prove my negativity and skepticism false.

I don't know for certain but I believe there is some historical significance to Boise Eliot being returned to Jeff? I will find out. I do know for certain that in Portland's desegregation history that people of color have been expected to make all of the sacrifices for integration by being bussed out of their neighborhood or protesting/going to court over the federal laws that were being blatantly broken by the district. While I know some of the changes don't make sense from a socioeconomic standpoint there may be some historical significance to redistricting schools that have not had to deal with the stress of large scale changes and travel distance in the past. I am totally hypothesizing here though so please don't quote me :) I do hope everyone reads the piece written by Ethan Johnson and Felicia Williams on desegregation and multiculturalism in Portland Public Schools.
I agree this might just be a plan to delay the pain and close another school later on if the community does not stick around. I have only been in Portland 11 years and while these issues exist all over in some capacity it was a culture shock to me to see how segregated the city and schools are and how even a technically diverse school like Grant still has a huge achievement gap. I can only speak for myself that I have an eye on that dance program for my lil' diva and will be a part of the solution. Hoping for the best.

Oh my, Angie. I too live in the Vernon/Jefferson area. I was literally sitting down to write a post when I read through yours. You LITERALLY took the words out of my mouth. I fully agree with what your wrote.
What is bothering me is how the district said that there was a magic number (1300?) of students that would be needed to make comprehensive high schools. The estimated number for Jefferson is around 900. Why on earth would they set this school up for failure again? It totally frustrates me, and I think that the district needs to walk the walk, and talk the talk about the changes that they said they want to make. Or we will be right back here in 5 years.

Angie, thanks for that thoughtful post.

I have mixed feelings. As someone whose kid was slated for a HS I was not thrilled about, but hopeful (Franklin) and is now headed for one everyone seems to consider desirable (Grant), I can't complain.

On the other hand, is an influx of mostly white, middle-class families from the Sunnyside neighborhood really what Grant needed right now? I can't help suspecting with Angie that this plan is about catering to the wealthy (not that we're in that category!) or middle-class parents the District feels itself to be in danger of losing.

On the other hand, like many pp, I do hope that limiting transfers will end up having an impact. I've taught in schools like Jefferson. Involved, committed, active parent advocates could have made a huge difference.

I've composed a letter to send to PPS expanding on my thoughts about the Plan, and including my own personal history in PPS, as I've lived in Portland my entire life, growing up on the west side, but living on the east side since graduating from college. I've sent the letter to my sister, who is the Curriculum Coordinator in Reynolds SD, for additional input, and although I'm sure that all of my concerns have been considered in the decision making process, I just hope that someone from the District or school board pays attention to these concerns and that the District finds a way to provide the additional support that is needed. From my understanding, that support was not there when the District went from separate elementary and middle schools to K-8 schools, which primarily occurred in the lower income schools.

That said, I definitely think that change is necessary and required throughout the District, so I wouldn't want to stand in the way of any changes being made at all. Personally, I think that a 60% graduation rate is embarrassing and appalling. I think that the current proposal has failed to make enough changes to make a real impact on the underachieving schools because there are too many uncertainties in the proposed plan, mainly the requirement of additional funds to implement the goals of the plan.

I am very far from having children in high school, but as someone who has lived in Portland all my life, and attended Grant, I will say, parental involvement is paramount in any sort of change that is desired at a school. I chuckle to myself when I hear Grant now referred to as an "elite" school, when in the 1980s, the police presence and concern about violence and underachievement was the talk of the day. I was a student
at Grant in the 90s, when a massive change occured - this started with parents taking back the school, getting involved, creating an amazing booster club, and bring Grant up to the status that it has today. Community inolvement is what it took for Grant to rise up. I can assure you that the parents were not all wealthy, non-working parents (although there surely were some of those too). There are a million different reasons why some schools will prosper and why some will not. Ecomonics, demographics, and a variety of factors all play a part. I certainly don't know all of the nuances of the funding issues, and I can't speak to whether this plan is best or what is better. But I strongly believe that it starts with the parents and commnunity joining with the schools in saying, "this is our school and we will make it better". I have so much hope for Jefferson with reading the posts of the parents on this site. Jefferson can be an amazing school again (as it once was) and a strong movement of parents is all it might need to get the ball rolling.

I was a member of the Jefferson Cluster Yahoo! group for awhile and found it to be much more politically driven than I was looking for. It might be a fit for folks, but it might also not.

Stephanie, Boise-Eliot pulls from the Boise and Eliot neighborhoods (yeah, guess that was obvious), and as I understand it, these were historically the *only* communities in Portland, after the Vanport flood, where blacks were allowed to live and buy property. I believe it was the historic Albina neighborhood.

These neighborhoods were chopped up by I5, among other racist decisions.

The neighborhood has seen quite a bit of gentrification and revitalization these past few years. And, again, I suspect the Boise-Eliot to Grant feed was at least one thing that drew in some families.

This plan does make for a shorter commute for some BE kids (BE to Grant is closer to 3 miles, rather than 1.5), but my understanding is that BE families have worked really hard to keep Grant as the feeder. This isn't about correcting a historical injustice, but, rather, so it seems, pushing black kids back into the black high school.

For what it's worth, Angie, I am a newcomer to Portland (moved here in November). We are renting on the West side, in the Wilson district, but are seriously considering when the time comes, buying in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood because it's closer to my husband's office.

I'll admit that in my cursory real estate searches, I've been more excited about the homes in the neighborhood that feed into Grant. But I am very optimistic, given the concern of so many families that now would feed into Jefferson, that Jefferson really could turn around. We are a long ways off from high school. But at the very least, it's encouraging to hear how passionate Boise-Eliot families are about improving their neighborhood schools. Makes the neighborhood even more attractive to me, honestly.

It took me awhile to realize how this proposal affected me and my family since our high school was going to be Franklin and still is Franklin. The way in which it affects us, is that we planned on our daughter getting to go to high school with all or her friends who live in the Sunnyside neighborhood. They were going to go to Franklin and now they'll go to Grant. This has been so disappointing for us since we just bought a house on the premise that even though our kids would go to different elementary and middle schools, we would still all end up at the same school for high school. Now this is not the case and we are super bummed. We are the only ones out of all my friends and family whose children will be at Franklin. Granted, I'm sure by the time high school rolls around (our daughter starts kindergarten next year) we'll have made many new and wonderful friends from her school community and we have nothing against Franklin as a school, yet had we known this information a month ago, I don't think we would have bought the house we did since staying connected to our community of friends and family was such a strong priority. Another interesting tidbit is that the school listed on the flier for our house was Laurelhurst feeding into Grant. After we put in an offer on the house I double checked the information and found it to be wrong as my part of the block is Glencoe/Mt. Tabor/Franklin and the other end is Laurelhurst/Grant. Maybe we won't care so much in 8-9 years, or maybe we'll move so that our daughter can go to school with all of our friends and families.

I wonder if the families attending Boise-Eliot prefer Jefferson to Grant. I heard the BE PTA president say a couple months ago that they wanted to be redistricted to Jefferson. It sounds like there could be a difference of opinion between families that attend BE and those who transfer out of BE? I don't know the answer but it would be interesting to find out.

Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but Boise-Eliot has been a Grant feeder for only 10 years.

A long time ago, Boise and Eliot were two separate schools. Boise fed to Jefferson, and Eliot fed to Washington. All that changed in the 1980's. Eliot was repurposed as Tubman Middle School; today it is known as the Young Women's Leadership Academy. The Eliot elementary children were sent to Boise, which became Boise-Eliot, and so the new feeder pattern was Boise-Eliot/Tubman/Jefferson. That pattern remained in effect until 2001, when Boise-Eliot and Tubman were rezoned for Grant.

My source of this information is Carolyn Leonard, who works for PPS and used to be the area director of the Jefferson Cluster.

I think that the District did the politically correct thing in not making Jeff a Dance and College Focus Option. It seems like the folks in that neighborhood have made it pretty clear what they think about the importance of a high school in their neighborhood. 3/4 of them appear to have no qualms about sending their kids elsewhere. Unless they can improve their capture rate (and who knows, maybe they can. That would be great!), in 5 years I think we may be at the table talking about what to do with this school. The Benson Option also surprised me. But if they are going to keep Jeff open, it's the reasonable thing to do. Benson is draining Jeff and to a lesser extent, Roosevelt, Madison and Marshall,of their population. And I think Neighborhood schools should be the bedrock of the school system. However, I do think Carole Smith listened to the community. The overwhelming cry was for neighborhood schools. In order to do that, the average student population numbers had to be smaller. One of the ways they are planning to offer the core program at 8 schools is to have fewer Career and Technical (CTE) Education courses. Those will primarily be concentrated at the revamped Benson. I'm sure each school will have a bit of CTE, just not as much as originally envisioned. for Instance, I'm hoping they open the Autoshop back up at Roosevelt, my school. As for electives, there is a simple way to provide equity there. Have each school off the same 25 course-just have the larger schools offer multiple classes of the most popular. That way, it's all proportional and fair.

FYI-I don't believe a PTA can pay for teachers. Only the School Foundations can do that.

I'm curious to see how the Jeff thing shakes out over the next ten years. I seem to hear a lot of parents in Jeff cluster elementary schools dedicated to sending their kids to the neighborhood schools. If this trend continues through the next decade, all those families with Kindergardeners in Concordia, Piedmont and Albina are going to be putting their community support into Jeff, which could turn out to be the thing that saves it.

Yes, if a PTA wants to pay for a teaching position, they have to do it through the Foundation. But I believe the PTA can still raise money for that purpose.


Zarwen: I'm looking at a PPS map from the 1981-1982 school year. It shows both Boise and Eliot schools feeding into Grant.

When I bought my home, I couldn't afford a suitable house in the Grant or Cleveland n'hoods (my two high school preferences at the time, and still). Back then, the PPS transfer policy was such that if you transferred out of your n'hood school at the grade school or middle school levels, you were guaranteed a spot in that feeder pattern all the way through high school. So I did the best I could with the home I bought (in the Madison area, but convenient enough to Grant), knowing that I could rely on the PPS transfer policy to eventually get my child into Grant.

The year my girl entered PPS was the first year that the transfer policy changed. Now a transfer into another school will only carry you as far as the highest grade in that school. Although my child is at a Grant Cluster middle school, that transfer "expires" when she completes 8th grade, and she be at Madison for high school.

My story, along with those about buying in a certain neighborhood specifically so their children can to a certain or "better" school, only underscores the need for equity across the system. We all thought we were doing the best we could to get our kids into one of just a few desirable high schools. But things change--boundaries move, schools close, transfer policies change.

Again, equity across the system--I don't know if the current plan is the right one; I don't think anyone knows precisely what will sufficiently improve things in PPS. But I do hope that whatever model PPS adopts works to being repairing the inequities, and I'll do what I can--as a parent and a PPS alum--to help that process along.

Neisha: I contacted the district about those maps. I was told that the maps are not reliable.

N and NE Mamas -wake up and smell the coffee - The superindent's recommendation is bad news for Roosevelt and Jefferson. By giving them each less than the optimal 1350 students, high rates of F&RL and the need for additional state and federal funds to offer a breadth of electives, these schools are set up to fail. But, in a few years when PPS if forced to revisit these schools because the achievement gap isn't closed and graduation rates aren't high enough; well, who cares because Carole Smith will be retired and the current board will be termed-out. But seriously, these schools will be pitted against one another once again.
It is time to advocate for a long-term solution NOW, during the HS Redesign. Consider the advantages of Option 7a. Jefferson is exceptionally well-positioned to be a multi-focus option school: dance program, partnership with PCC.
Frankly, Jefferson can't wait for all your urban babies to grow into HS'ers to get your support to make it a great school.
I don't think there is the critical mass it needs to be successful in the next 3-5 years. And the PPS Budget Advisory Committee made it clear they do not think there are financial resources to successfully roll out the HS Redesign any more than there were funds to implement the K-8 reconfiguration.
Now is the time to make the investments in Roosevelt and Jefferson that allow them each to succeed. But trying to keep them both community comprehensives is not it.

Yes! Yes! Yes! sabinmama. The seven schools option A is what we need. I have written personally to all of the board memebers encouraging that they take a closer look at this option. It is detailed, starting on page 34 of the superintendents proposal.
Speak up now!
All of the board memeber's email addresses are on the PPS website, and there is an email address that is specific to the redesign. highschools@pps.k12.or.us
The time for REAL change is NOW. Thanks!

I personally agree that 7a is the better option. A world-class Class Dance Program and a College program would be real assets to the Jefferson area and to the city as a whole. I'm sure Carole didn't want to make the unpopular decision to shutter the district's historically African American school. We all know where the discussion would lead on that one. But this redesign needs to be based on the best outcome for the District as a whole, not on emotions about individual schools. If I really thought that closing Roosevelt would fix things, I would mourn and then move on. But it just makes more sense to have Jeff be a Focus Option.

Sadly, this whole thing only delays the gut-wrenching inevitable for Jeff. I agree with all who have said we will be back at Square One with Roosevelt and Jeff 5 years from now. But by then, Carole and the current Board will be long gone. Let their successors take the heat for it!

as a Boise Eliot mom, I feel we are getting a raw deal! I plan on writing the school board with my thoughts. Jefferson needs an academic focus other than the dance program. What about IB or spanish focus? Beach & Vernon already feed there... and Sabin is becoming IB. why not move them to Jeff as well to get the student numbers up to 1300? This whole proposal makes no sense!

I am a parent in the Boise Eliot neighborhood, and I'm writing to express my disappointment with the proposal to feed Boise into Jefferson. Our neighborhood has been in a state of delicate transition for many years, and the last thing we need is to have our kids feed into a new high school (AGAIN). Boise students seem to be the eternal Guinea Pigs of the district. We all know Jefferson is in the bottom ranks of Portland's schools, while Grant is somewhat successful.
We are the only elementary school being shifted into a very poorly performing high school, why is that? It seems that you have re-zoned Grant so that all of the affluent, white elementary schools feed there. I see that Sunnyside has shoved us out of Grant; that seems incredibly biased. And why not send Sabin to Jefferson instead of Boise? Sabin is just as close...or Why not send Sabin AND Boise to Jeff to increase the student population at Jeff so they can have all the electives they deserve? It makes no sense that Jeff still isn't going to meet it's 1300 student goal with this rezoning plan!
Also, we bought a house in the Boise Eliot neighborhood with the idea of setting down roots and staying here. The schools we are zoned for weighed in heavily in our decision to invest in a home! I want my children to attend Grant for many reasons but don't have the means to move again. Nor do I want other young families to shy away from buying in our neighborhood because of the new feed. Being rezoned for Jefferson isn't going to make our neighborhood more marketable to FAMILIES unless the plan to improve Jefferson involves more of an academic focus.
This is a great opportunity to start an IB or Spanish focus at Jefferson. Beach and Vernon already feed there. Sabin is starting an IB program too- send us all to Jefferson. Make an IB program, and make sure the best teachers go to Jefferson. Good teachers with a true heart should want to help these students!
If you're concerned about the community, you should consider the repercussions of rezoning an "up and coming" neighborhood to a failing school without a proper plan to improve ALL of the high schools. Many parents in the area are concerned.
I agree that kids should go to their neighborhood school to make their communities stronger. But it's obvious Jefferson's plan isn't going to work unless they get a higher student population with some sort of focus option BESIDES dance. I agree dance is important, but families are looking for an academic focus that will carry through to college.


nmom, thank you so much for making those suggestions about bringing a more academic focus to Jeff. All I keep hearing is lamentations about the proposal and no one standing up shouting loud enough about the strengths Jeff has going for it. The cry here seems to be to keep BE in Grant, but I think you are so right about adding to the group alted for Jeff, don't make it smaller. Absolutely-feed those IB programs into Jeff. There is absolutely no reason why a disadvantaged school can't strive for more and in the long run, keep the families that have begun to call this neighborhood home. YES!

Option 7b proposed closing Franklin and Lincoln. Sending the Lincoln kids to Jeff and Roosevelt would sure send a message about change and equity. How much you wanna bet they would NEVER even consider this?


I would bet my house that what prompted that scenario was Frank Cappuccio's remarks about closing Lincoln at the Brewhaha. All tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I truly think some PPS shill said, yes, let's generate a scenario based on that! and that is why 7B is in that document.

I completely agree with the statements about closing Franklin and Lincoln. That option would never happen. It's about as preposterous as sending Alameda to Jeff and keeping Boise-Eliot in Grant. That would never happen, but could be a local way to create some equity within the n/ne high schools, not to mention equal out the population inequity. The more I think about the plan, the more I think that the District should go with option 7a and close Jefferson altogether.

Boise Eliot elementary is having a PTA meeting this Friday May 14 9-10 am. Part of the agenda is to discuss the high school redesign. Everyone is welcome. I live in the Boise boundary and plan on going even though my kids aren't in school yet. If you live in the Boise area and want to get involved, now is the time. We only have a few more weeks before the board makes a decision!

There is a Facebook page to support Jeff called Jefferson High School Redesign Community. The PTA came and talked to us tonight at the Ockley Green PTO meeting about all the things happening at Jefferson and they were very passionate. Whatever happens will happen but I will fight to keep my neighborhood high school a comprehensive school vs. a focus until the final decision is made.

There's an article in the Oregonian today about a new proposal to move Benson to Jefferson. Anyone from the district could then apply to go to Jefferson (Benson), and elementary schools that feed into Jeff now would be rezoned to Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Grant. Here's the article:

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