The Portland school board held a special Saturday meeting to hear parents’ concerns about the impending shuffle of students among several north Portland schools.
The Jefferson Cluster plan would consolidate a small but very successful elementary school with a larger K-through-eight program which hasn’t attracted full enrollment. Many students in the area opt to transfer their children out of the cluster, under the district’s open enrollment policy. Parents spoke both for and against the plan.
Families from other schools in the cluster expressed concerns their neighborhood schools would soon be targeted because of low enrollment. Rafaella Hernandez has a second grader at King Elementary, and volunteers with her school PTA. Speaking through a friend who translated, Hernandez said closing schools would not bring the desired outcome. She recommended the district work instead, as the PTA does, to raise more money.
(In Spanish) “Because each child brings with him or her the cost of education, and the pay for his or her teacher. Work to strengthen education, not to kill it.”
Superintendent Carole Smith has said she doesn’t relish closing buildings, but that the current enrollment imbalances can’t support strong, sustainable schools.
The board is scheduled to vote on Smith’s proposal February 25th.