Proposed closure of Young Women’s Leadership Academy

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April 2012

Portland Public Schools is proposing to close Young Women’s Leadership Academy at the end of this school year because it is no longer feasible to provide the core academic program given the school’s small size.

Current sixth through 12th graders at the school would remain until the end of the school year and PPS would work with sixth through 11th grade families to select a school for the coming fall. The closure is part of Portland Public School’s proposed 2012-13 budget that the school board will vote on May 14. (See more below)

Why is PPS proposing to close Young Women’s Leadership Academy?

YWLA’s current projected enrollment for 2012-13 is about 200 students for seven grade levels. Given staffing cuts proposed for next year’s budget, that is not enough students to offer a core program and provide the consistent opportunities they need to graduate and move on to post-secondary success.
YWLA has made a profound difference for many young women. Parents, teachers and students have worked hard to build and support the school community. But given the enrollment, PPS believes that connecting YWLA students with schools where they can access a full core program is the best way to support them at this time.

Is this really necessary?

PPS is proposing this closure — and other changes across the district — to close a $27.5 million budget gap for 2012-13 and to give students the best possible access to a full core academic program.

What options do middle grades students have for next fall?

The School Choice lottery will be open until April 13 for current sixth and seventh graders who would like to choose another school with available space. In addition to lottery choices, middle grades girls have a guaranteed space at their neighborhood school. Enrollment & Transfer Center staff will be at upcoming school meetings to assist families with lottery and other choices. Families can also call the Enrollment & Transfer Center at 503-916-3205.

What options do high school students have for next fall?

All current YWLA 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th grade students have a guaranteed space at Jefferson High School – Middle College for Advanced Studies, 5210 N. Kerby St., which offers a full high school experience as well as up to a year or more of courses, free of charge, at Portland Community College, and mentoring and tutoring from Self Enhancement Inc.

Students can alternatively choose to attend their neighborhood high school or discuss other options with PPS Enrollment & Transfer Center staff. ETC staff will be at upcoming school meetings to talk with families. Families can also call the Enrollment & Transfer Center at 503-916-3205.

What options do students in YWLA’s special needs classroom have?

Special Education staff will meet with each family to determine placement for next year.

Will there be a meeting at the school to discuss this proposed change?

A meeting for YWLA families is 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, at  at the school. Dinner will be provided. At this meeting, PPS staff will explain the proposal, next steps and answer questions. High school-age families will then have the opportunity to be transported to Jefferson High School – Middle College for Advanced Studies to learn about the school. Middle school families and high school families not wishing to tour Jefferson that evening will remain at Young Women’s to meet with counselors and Enrollment & Transfer Center staff to work on their school choices.

How can I share my thoughts and what impact might I have?

The school district’s budget situation requires difficult and significant cuts. It is likely that this proposed closure will go through. We encourage you to voice your view of this proposal and also to tell school officials how a transition could be made easier, should the proposal go forward. You can testify at a budget hearing about the proposed closure and other cuts:

  • April 9, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Cleveland High School, 3400 S.E. 26th Ave.
  • April 11, 6 p.m., at Roosevelt High School, 6491 N. Central St.

Note: You must sign up to testify prior to the start time of the hearing by coming early or by calling the School Board Office in advance at 503-916-3906. You can also email a comment to the School Board.

Additional opportunities for input may be scheduled. Please check the school website for updates at Please also make sure that YWLA has your latest phone number, email and mailing address so that they can keep you up to date with new information. Contact YWLA at 503-916-5630.

What happens next?

The Portland School Board is scheduled to vote on Superintendent Carole Smith’s budget proposal, which includes the closure of Young Women’s Leadership Academy, on May 14.

However, the Superintendent and School Board will discuss the closure proposal during their Monday, April 16, work session in an effort to bring clarity as soon as possible. The meeting begins at 5 pm at 501 N. Dixon Street. It is televised live on TV-Channel 28. You can learn more about PPS’ proposed budget and, again, can check the school’s website for updates.