PORTLAND –Mixed reactions greeted a sweeping reorganization plan announced Monday night for Portland Public Schools.
Benson and Marshall High Schools are the two schools most directly impacted by the reorganization plan. Under the plan announced by school superintendent Carole Smith, Marshall would become a magnet school and Benson would be converted to a school with a two-year technical program exclusively for juniors and seniors.
"This is my school and I feel like they're shutting down a part of my school and a part of me," Imani Burris, a Benson student told KGW.
"It's not going to be the same, and that's sad, that's different," said Steve Olczak, Principal of Benson High School.
The largest high school re-design in the history of Portland Public Schools was unveiled at district headquarters Monday. Superintendent Carole Smith laid out an 88-page plan to change the way Portland high school students learn.The purpose of the plan, said Smith, was higher performance and greater equity in quality of education.
Duncan Wyse of the Oregon Business Council supports the changes.
"If you have smaller learning communities, where teachers can work together with students, they can personalize instruction, they can create rigor and they can importantly lend relevance to instruction that speaks to a wide variety of students," said Wyse.
Under the plan, Marshall High School would be closed as a high school and converted into a magnet school.
For Sarina Moore, a junior at Marshall, the announcement was heartbreaking.
"That's when I get to go to prom, I get to graduate ...and now I'm gonna get moved schools most likely," said Moore.
The sweeping reorganization also calls for creating eight "community high schools" at Cleveland, Grant, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Roosevelt, and Wilson. With the exception of Roosevelt and Wilson, this would mean that each school's current boundaries would change to accommodate new students. Transfers between schools would be extremely limited.
Check your address: School boundaries map
Grant parent Jim Haykin worried that as the boundaries change, current families with the means to leave the district will and the districts sagging enrollment will decline further.
"There are an awful lot of people who will be looking at their options if the boundaries change and I think this is a critical time. I think we need to keep everybody happy and in the district for any plan to succeed," said Haykin.
Smith's plan for Benson, to create an advanced career and technical education center for juniors and seniors, had at least one staff member concerned. John Slaughter, a Benson alumnus and staffer, questioned why the change was needed, who wanted it, and who would benefit.
"The proposal has students coming from across the district for half the day, basically making Benson a trade school or skill center I haven't seen the data that supports that the city wants a trade school," said Slaughter.
Along with the campus changes comes a curriculum change, a core program in-line with the Oregon University system's admission guidelines. The program would roll out across every community high school district wide.
"I believe it reflects the right step in providing each of our students with the opportunity to transition to post secondary success whether in college career or community," said Superintendent Smith.
With Smith's proposal now on the table, a 30-day public comment period will begin on Wednesday. The school board was scheduled to vote on the plan June 21st.
If approved, the plan's implementation would begin in the 2010-2011 school year.
Public input: Community meetings schedule
Background: PPS lays out goals for reorganization
NOW AFTER REDESIGN
FRANKLIN: 1,032 1,320
GRANT: 1,610 1,310
LINCOLN: 1,395 1,310
CLEVELAND: 1,553 1,290
WILSON: 1,439 1,270
MADISON: 860 1,140
JEFFERSON: 617 940
ROOSEVELT: 681 940