How the student populations of some two dozen Portland Public Schools will be reassigned is in the hands of a 26-member committee that will report its recommendations to Superintendent Carole Smith. Smith will send her proposal to the school board in January. During the first two months of 2016, the board will consider the proposal and seek public testimony. A potential vote of the board has been scheduled in February and any board-approved “growth management plan” is expected to be implemented.
There was little agreement among parents of Vernon School students in mid-November on two “enrollment balancing scenarios” proposed for the Northeast Portland K-8. Both scenarios include downsizing Vernon to K-5 and sending sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to either Tubman (2231 N. Flint Ave.) or Ockley Green (6031 N. Montana Ave.) middle schools. Both middle schools are more than a mile away from Vernon School at 2044 N.E. Killingsworth St. One parent wondered why, if the feedback to the plan was so important, the plan, unveiled in October, was being pushed through on such a short schedule.
A representative for neighboring Sabin School echoed sentiments Vernon parents expressed: wanting their children to attend a neighborhood school and not having to travel miles outside the neighborhood for middle school. Vernon Principal Ben Keefer and Assistant Principal Brad Parker were asked whether keeping Vernon’s middle-school-aged students at Vernon for 2016-17 would be manageable. They said the simple answer is “Yes.”
At one point in the evening, parents suggested that a new middle school in the Vernon neighborhood might be a better solution for their students instead of forcing them to travel a long distance for their middle school classes. Several pointed out that prejudicial housing practices of the last century have left 21st century schools with socioeconomic complications that should also be addressed. Not to do so, some parents pointed out, would maintain the inequities of the past.
Other schools affected are Roseway Heights K-8, which would open as Roseway Heights Middle School and shift its K-5 students to a reopened Rose City Park Elementary under one scenario or split most of its K-5 students between Scott and Lee and a small portion to Glencoe. Scott K-8 would send its sixth- to eighth- grade students to Roseway Heights. Under one scenario Grant would begin accepting a portion of Woodlawn’s students that now feed Roosevelt, and another scenario would see portions of Alameda, Beverly Cleary and Laurelhurst students that now feed Grant begin to feed Madison High School. Details of scenarios for all schools can be found at www.pps.k12.or.us.