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"Big Ideas" Look to Scale Back High School Footprint

Portland Public Schools is  looking at a number of ways to improve its high schools by consolidating programs. Rob Manning reports.

Officials say the dropout rate and achievement disparity among Portland’s high schools are driving the district to propose system-wide changes.

The discussion is beginning with three so-called “big ideas”: one would institute academies and career tracks, another would give students a choice between neighborhood schools and district-wide magnets, and a third would shift to a regional system where students could move among campuses.

In the end, officials anticipate having three or four fewer big high schools. Chief of staff Zeke Smith warned that buildings would close or change, when he explained one model at a meeting this week.

Zeke Smith: “This model, in order for us to have a sustainable model, would require some level of campus closure, or re-purposing.”

The district has another meeting planned for Saturday, but school officials won't choose a final  “model” until June.

The changes would be phased in over the next three to ten years.