Portland Public Schools officials are considering a new location for Tubman Middle School in Northeast Portland, but the district announced Friday that the rebuild will not replace any existing elementary school.
“As we prepare for additional community discussions, we are sharing that we agree that this future middle school should enhance — and not displace — existing school communities in the Albina neighborhood,” district officials said in a statement.
Officials are moving the school due to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Rose Quarter improvement project to widen the I-5 freeway. District officials said the project will “increase the significant negative impacts” on the middle school’s community.
Gov. Kate Brown has made a $120 million funding request ahead of the 2022 legislative session to relocate the school in the Albina community.
“This is the right action for the State to take given the historical harm that the I-5 freeway inflicted on this school community and the broader Albina community,” said PPS board member Julia Brim-Edwards. Brim-Edwards served on the Rose Quarter Executive Steering Committee.
The district has been considering two options: Purchasing and rebuilding at a new site, or relocating and upgrading a district-owned property. At a meeting earlier this month, the board heard an update on Tubman plans. The presentation included the status of various potential sites for Tubman based on criteria including location, the area of the land and availability. The only sites listed as “maybe potentially viable” were the four elementary schools that feed into Tubman: Boise-Eliot Humboldt, Irvington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sabin.
Families at King had previously expressed concern that their school might be considered for the relocation. They expressed relief Friday that the district has taken King off the table.
“As we heal from the trauma, we appreciate that our school community is safe and will remain engaged with school district leaders in the discussion of where to relocate Harriet Tubman Middle School,” said King PTA president Tiffany Robinson, who authored an Oregonian/OregonLive opinion column on the topic earlier this week.
It’s unclear what properties the district is currently considering for Tubman’s relocation.
The board’s facilities and operations committee will meet Feb. 7 to continue narrowing down options for a possible relocation.
“Over the last few weeks, my school board colleagues and I have listened to PTA leaders, students, and families from our Albina neighborhood schools, and together with our community, I am confident that we will find a solution that will benefit our kids and our community,” said Gary Hollands, board member and chair of PPS’ facilities and operations committee.