Advocacy Update – Courtesy of PMAR (Portland Metro Association of Realtors) Governmental Affairs Director Jane Leo
Portland Public Schools Reviews School Boundaries – All schools up for discussion
PPS is currently in the process of reviewing all school boundaries. We asked Portland Public Schools to provide our members with more details; see the article below for the “why” and “what’s next.” Now more than ever, the information posted in a listing regarding schools can only be “deemed accurate at the time of publication.” If your buyer needs specific information about where their children will go to school or if a boundary will change, they should contact the PPS Enrollment Office at 503-916-3205.
Great Schools for Every PPS Neighborhood Portland Public Schools has a historic opportunity to grow great schools in every neighborhood By Jon Isaacs, Chief of Communications & Public Affairs, Portland Public Schools
In addition to strong and consistent local support for schools and a reviving economy, PPS enrollment is on the rise. Now at 48,500, enrollment is projected to grow by approximately 5,000 students in the next 10 years, returning to levels not seen since the late 1990s.
This growth provides the PPS community an historic opportunity to rebuild programs, reconfigure and right-size schools, while also modernizing school buildings following a decade of declining enrollment and nearly two decades of shrinking program and maintenance budgets.
This is why PPS is currently reviewing all school boundaries, grade configurations, and school building capacities. The decisions that we make as a community and a school district now will serve our children and our city for generations to come.
Why Are We Doing This? Enrollment growth resulting in review of all boundaries
Starting in 1997, PPS enrollment began declining, setting the district on a collision course with the effects of property tax limitation and equalization after several years of spending down the district’s once healthy reserves. In 2002, the annual shortfalls in the PPS budget went from serious to crippling.
To cope, Portland Public Schools took drastic measures. Between 2003 and 2012, the school district closed or consolidated 23 schools. Thirty-two schools experienced boundary change. And, grade configurations were changed at 35 mostly eastside schools, many going from elementary or middle schools to K-8s.
The rationale: consolidate students to allow for sufficient teachers and program offerings at the most schools.
Now, PPS is turning a corner. Portland’s population is growing, and established residents are waiting longer to have children, and are remaining in the city when they do start families. PPS continues to have over 80% of families choosing to send their students to public schools. These factors are driving steady enrollment growth across the school district just as state funding for schools has improved with the economy.
In addition, PPS strengthened neighborhood schools in winter 2015 by ending the use of the lottery system for transfers between neighborhood schools.
The result: an historic opportunity to grow great schools in every neighborhood – for all students.
What Happens Next? Changes beginning Fall 2016
To seize the opportunity we now face across our district, PPS convened a diverse committee of 26 parents, teachers, principals, administrators and technical experts in fall 2014. The committee includes Jane Leo, representing the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors®. Since December 2014, the District-Wide Boundary Review Advisory Committee (DBRAC) has been studying district history, demographic trends and the work of similar school districts. DBRAC is advising PPS staff to develop proposals for such future plans to manage growth such as moving boundaries, converting K-8s into elementary and middle schools, expanding existing schools and reopening schools that were closed. Proposals will be released to the community for feedback in mid-October.
The public is invited to learn about and comment on possible changes to schools and boundaries at a series of community meetings in October and November. An online survey and Twitter and Facebook town halls will round out opportunities for comment. Community feedback will shape the final proposals that the committee sends to Superintendent Carole Smith in early December. Superintendent Smith will take a final proposal to the school board in early January 2016. A board decision is expected in time for the school choice period in February. Growth management plans would begin to be implemented in Fall 2016. For up-to-date information on the boundary changes, visit the PPS website at http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/enrollment-transfer/9522.htm.