With a goal of ensuring that “every student by name will meet or exceed academic standards and will be fully prepared to make productive life decisions by the end of elementary, middle and high school,” the Portland Public Schools (PPS) board of directors approved an increase of students to be admitted as freshman and sophomores to Benson Polytechnic High School (BPHS). At the same time, the board adjusted enrollment to alleviate overcrowding at Lincoln High School.
The board’s 5-2 January vote on Benson launches a one-year pilot program to allocate slots to Benson more equally across other PPS high schools. Currently, 68 percent of Benson students come from Jefferson, Madison and Roosevelt high school clusters. The adjustment will open BPHS to more students in the ninth and tenth grades by 40. Target enrollment at Benson has been set at 850 students.
Board action also endorsed a staff recommendation to grant more upper-grade students admission to Benson dependent upon teachers/counselors’ identifying Benson as a better fit for individual academic success. Combined with more aggressive retention strategies, changes are expected to push Benson’s enrollment up to around 900 in the next academic year.
PPS strategy for relieving overcrowding at Lincoln High School includes guaranteeing a transfer spot for students interested in attending other PPS schools with space: Lincoln students will be able to transfer voluntarily to Benson, Jefferson Middle College, Madison, Roosevelt or Wilson high schools.