By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
Ten yellow school buses will head to Tubman Middle School August 27-28 when Portland Public Schools classes begin, but they won’t be filled with middle school students. The buses will carry the “Faubion Family” of kindergarten through eighth grade students.
Demolition of the 1950 Faubion Elementary School, built for 350 students and recently filled with about 525, is planned for October. Groundbreaking for a larger school is scheduled for February, 2016, with completion by fall, 2017, at 3039 N.E. Rosa Parks Way.
During construction, Faubion students and staff will use the two-story Tubman building, nearly 4 miles away at 2231 N. Flint Ave. That building has a bigger gymnasium, library and cafeteria with play equipment in the adjacent Albina-Lillis Park.
The move won’t be an abrupt one for Faubion’s students, said Pamela Dye, whose daughter, Jasmine, will be in third grade. Instead, Dye said, the staff has talked to students about the move and answered their concerns about leaving one building for another.
“We’re moving as a school,” she said Jasmine was told. “We’re still the Faubion family. We’ll be in Tubman until we get a new, rebuilt school.”
Gloria Fluker, a grandmother who served on the design committee for the new building, said school personnel “have kept people involved and have been answering all our questions.”
She picks up her granddaughter, Nevaeh Dwan-Fluker, an incoming eighth grader, after school because of her parents’ work schedule. Fluker said her granddaughter seems excited by the move.
The only complaint she’s heard from Nevaeh and her friends is the August start date. Portland schools traditionally have started after Labor Day, but this year the holiday is September 7, which would have cut a week off an already short school year.
In addition to retaining their friends and teachers, Faubion students will see Concordia students who have been volunteering in classrooms or completing student teaching requirements at Faubion.
The private university, across Northeast 29th Avenue from the public school, has been in a cooperative arrangement with Faubion for nearly eight years. The goal is to improve the education of students on both sides of the street.
They call the program 3 to PhD, which is shorthand for quality early education and helping students to Pursue Highest Dreams. The hope is that the program can be replicated at other schools and that teachers will be trained to work in diverse urban settings, said Gary Withers, Concordia’s executive vice president for external affairs.
Concordia students will travel from the campus to assignments at Tubman via vans, said Jason Hagen, the university’s director of operations who is coordinating transportation and schedules.
Concordia is committed to maintaining continuity of services during the time at Tubman, said Withers. Since Concordia began working with Faubion, test scores have risen in reading, science and math. University students and staff also have provided art, music, physical education, a nutrition program and visits from Concordia’s student nurses.
The nutrition and health programs are especially important in a school where a majority of students come from low-income families and an estimated 20 percent are without secure housing. The enrollment, said Principal LaShawn Lee, is nearly evenly split among white, Latino and African-American students with some Asian American students.
Trillium Family Services has another two-year grant to provide Faubion with a licensed clinical social worker who is bi-lingual and can work with families, students and groups of students on a variety of issues.
In addition to academic assistance, Concordia is continuing efforts to raise $15.51 million for the new Faubion, which will include space for Concordia’s College of Education.
The school district has set aside $29 million from a bond measure for the new building. The Oregon Legislature, after hearing testimony from Lee, agreed to commit $785,000 for construction. The City of Portland has agreed to provide $500,000.
Meanwhile, Concordia freshmen will help Faubion teachers unpack boxes and prepare their Tubman classrooms on August 24. An open house is scheduled August 26. “Tea with Principal Lee” will be served from 9-10 a.m. August 27, then half the students will have a building orientation before beginning classes. The schedule will repeat August 28 for the other half of students.
And, if they need help with reading or math, the younger students will have a Concordia buddy to help them through the rough spots, Lee said. That’s one of the expanded programs the students will have in the Tubman building, she said.