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Staff proposes options to balance NE enrollment

November 18, 2011
After holding eight community meetings centered on enrollment balancing, Portland Public Schools central office leaders have proposed options and scenarios that might affect Alameda Elementary School, Beaumont Middle School and Irvington, and Rigler, Sabin and Vernon K-8 schools.

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If approved by Superintendent Carole Smith and the Portland School Board, the changes would take effect beginning next September.

The recommendations are:

Comment on recommendations

Provide feedback on the proposed enrollment balancing options:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6:30-8 p.m., Grant High School, 2245 N.E. 36th Ave.
  • Monday, Dec. 5, 6-7:30 p.m., Madison High School, 2735 N.E. 82nd Ave.
  • Portions of the Alameda/Beaumont boundary would shift to Irvington and Sabin schools.
  • Rigler would change to a K-5 school. Students in grades 6-8 would be assigned to one of two schools: Vernon or Beaumont.
  • Sabin would remain a PK-8 school or convert to a PK-5 school, with middle grades students assigned to Beaumont.
  • Because Beaumont would be adding one new feeder school, sixth-grade transfer slots would drop from 75 to 30 — the same level as other middle schools — and the guarantee from Sabin to Beaumont would be eliminated.
  • Transfers into sixth grade at all PPS schools would be limited by neighborhood.

The proposals are online, and copies will be available at information tables at the six schools during conferences. The tables will be staffed from 8:15 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, and Tuesday, Nov. 22. 

The purpose of the enrollment balancing process is to help ensure that no school is too large or too small. It is a "balance" because too many students creates crowded buildings, and too few result in underfunded schools.

Questions and feedback

PPS recently held eight meetings to discuss enrollment balancing. Within hours of each meeting, the school district posted summaries and notes, and updated a question-and-answer document.

Among the questions: Are siblings guaranteed enrollment at the same school? (Generally, yes — but the board can modify the sibling rule when making a boundary change.)

Many questions were school specific. At Alameda, some wanted to know if full-time special education classrooms could be affected; Sabin families asked if they could lose their IB program. (No and no)

Enrollment balancing is largely data-driven, but feedback is important, says Enrollment & Transfer Director Judy Brennan. "We all want the same thing: Schools that serve all of our families to the best extent possible."

Comment on proposed options

PPS released the recommendations Nov. 18, and is notifying families through advisories and at parent-teacher conferences, with information about forums where they can provide input:

  •     Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6:30-8 p.m., Grant High School, 2245 N.E. 36th Ave.
  •     Monday, Dec. 5, 6-7:30 p.m., Madison High School, 2735 N.E. 82nd Ave.

Families at affected schools should expect a phone call after the Thanksgiving holiday to remind them of the meetings. Also, neighbors who live in areas of proposed boundary changes will get a postcard.

Under school district policy, the proposed options will be evaluated based solely on educational factors, such as student learning and safety, program stability and best use of facilities. Impact on property values and historic neighborhood identification with one school or another are not criteria for assessing the options.

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