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Superintendent to make Jefferson Cluster recommendation

February 01, 2013

Superintendent Carole Smith, on Monday Feb. 4, will present the Portland School Board with steps to address enrollment issues in the Jefferson Cluster, and recommend a re-evaluation of transfer and student assignment policies to ensure that they support strong neighborhood schools across PPS.

Superintendent Carole Smith makes her recommendation for the Jefferson Cluster to the school board Feb. 4.

After months of community dialogue, Smith will recommend a path forward that balances the urgent need to bolster programs at schools with the equally urgent need to provide stability to Jefferson neighborhood schools. Smith is not recommending the closure of any neighborhood schools in the Jefferson cluster at this time in order to minimize disruption for students and promote stability. Specifically, Smith will recommend:

  • Merging Chief Joseph K-5 and Ockley Green PK-8 into a single neighborhood PK-8 school and close the Ockley Green focus option program. This merger would strengthen core program and enrichment for students and address crowding issues at Chief Joseph.
    • Chief Joseph and Ockley Green would operate as a shared campus while a phase-out of the Ockley Green magnet program occurs. The distribution of grades between buildings during that transition period would be determined.
    • Students attending the Ockley Green focus option program may remain in the merged PK-8, return to their neighborhood school, or apply to attend King PK-8.
    • A process to determine leadership of the merged school would include staff and community input.
    • The Chief Joseph building would ultimately close and all students would attend on the Ockley campus, which would undergo a re-naming in collaboration with the Native American community.
  • Co-locating the ACCESS program at King K-8. For next fall, the ACCESS program would move from Sabin K-8 to King PK-8. Co-location of these two programs allows room for both to develop growth plans while providing short term stability.
  • Maintaining special education contained classrooms and programs at Woodlawn and King while examining the continued viability of the contained classroom at Ockley Green.

“It is clear that the issues facing the Jefferson cluster are complex and long-standing. I recognize that PPS itself carries a measure of responsibility,” Smith noted. “It is also clear that the Jefferson community’s deep support for its neighborhood schools presents a tremendous opportunity to work together to build strong, sustainable and high-performing schools that prepare every student well for high school and college. Significant disruption at this time would undermine this goal, not support it.”

(View superintendent's letter to the school board.)

Detailed recommendation to board Monday

Smith will present her full, detailed recommendation to the school board at 6 p.m. Monday at the Blanchard Education Service Center, 501 N. Dixon St. The meetings are carried live on TV Channel 28 and streamed live.

The board will then listen to public testimony:

At a public hearing Saturday Feb.9, 10 a.m. – noon, in the Jefferson High School Auditorium, 5210 N. Kerby Ave.
•    At their Monday Feb. 11 board meeting, 6 p.m., 501 N. Dixon St. (45 minutes allocated for testimony)

The board is expected to vote on the superintendent's recommendation Feb. 25.

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