The Martin Luther King Jr. School in Portland, Ore., is shown April 23, 2012.

The Martin Luther King Jr. School in Portland, Ore., is shown April 23, 2012.

Rick Bowmer/AP

It looks increasingly likely that Portland schools will move away from a system of K-8 schools and return to separate elementary and middle schools. That case is strengthened by a new analysis released by Portland Public Schools this week.

Portland Public analyzed 88 school buildings to see if they can really fit nine grade levels, as K-8 schools.

Harrison Park K-8 is one of 15 school buildings large enough to support a K-8 program.

Harrison Park K-8 is one of 15 school buildings large enough to support a K-8 program.

OPB

The district found that only 15 buildings are big enough for an ideally-sized K-8 program of about 700 students. The district currently runs 27 K-8 schools - many of which are overcrowded.  

But 60 buildings could fit elementary-only programs of up to 550 students.

The analysis found more than 30 buildings with the classroom space for a middle school.  

Portland Public Schools moved toward K-8 schools a decade ago, as the district closed schools amid declining enrollment and shrinking budgets. Superintendent Carole Smith signaled over the summer that shifting back to separate elementary and middle schools might be necessary to provide strong instructional programs to growing PPS enrollment. 

Bridger K-8 is one of a number of schools that has too few classrooms to house an ideally-sized K-8. A PPS analysis finds Bridger's 23 classrooms are a better fit for an elementary school.

Bridger K-8 is one of a number of schools that has too few classrooms to house an ideally-sized K-8. A PPS analysis finds Bridger’s 23 classrooms are a better fit for an elementary school.

Rob Manning/OPB

Portland school board members heard the building analysis this week, as part of a district-wide review of school boundaries and facilities. District staff plans to roll out draft scenarios of how Portland could change things, based on a number of priorities, including the district’s focus on racial and income equity.

Public meetings are planned, leading up to a school board vote in early 2016, possibly overhauling where students attend school.