Portland school officials would return to a system of separate elementary and middle schools under proposals unveiled Thursday night. The proposals suggest converting as many as 22 K-to-8 schools.
Portland Public Schools is rolling out two scenarios to its district-wide Boundary Review Advisory Committee. But the changes are less about school boundaries, and more about what grades the schools serve, says school district spokesman, Jon Isaacs.
"So there's far more grade configuration than boundary change, and I would, in layperson's terms, describe one as 'more change' and one as 'less,'" Isaacs said.
Both scenarios suggest re-opening the Kellogg Middle School building in Southeast Portland. It would be used as a neighborhood middle school in the scenario Isaacs described as "more change," or as the home for two magnet programs: ACCESS (for exceptional students, currently located at Rose City Park School in Northeast Portland) and Creative Science School (currently at the Clark School building in Southeast Portland).
Both scenarios could close the Hollyrood campus of Beverly Cleary School, according to district officials - but they were still studying whether the small school building in Northeast would be needed.
The following K-8 schools would become elementary schools in both scenarios: Arleta, Beach, Bridger, Cesar Chavez, Creston, Lee, Lent, Marysville, Scott, Vernon, Vestal, Woodlawn, Woodmere.
Roseway Heights K-8 would become a middle school in both scenarios. Both scenarios anticipate addressing the Chief Joseph/Ockley Green K-8 program the same way: by turning Chief Joseph into an elementary school, and returning Ockley Green to middle school.
The "more change" scenario would convert 22 K-8 schools into elementary and middle schools.
Among those changes: The scenario would re-open the Harriet Tubman building as a middle school, with K-8 programs at Boise-Elliott, King, and Sabin schools converting to elementary schools, with the sixth through eighth grade-aged students going to Tubman. Also in that scenario, the Fernwood campus of Beverly Cleary School would become a middle school, with sixth-through-eighth grade students from Irvington and Laurelhurst heading to Fernwood. Skyline K-8 would become an elementary school in the "more change" scenario, with its sixth-through-eighth grade students feeding to West Sylvan Middle School. Peninsula K-8 would become an elementary school, feeding Ockley Green Middle School.
The "less change" scenario would convert 16 K-8s into elementary and middle schools. Peninsula, Skyline, Boise-Elliott, and Sabin schools all would remain K-8s - and Tubman would not open under this scenario. As mentioned above, the ACCESS and Creative Science programs would move to a re-opened Kellogg Middle School building. Harrison Park School would become a middle school in this scenario; it would be remain a K-8 in the "more change" scenario.
Some schools would see no change in either proposal, such as Alameda and Rigler elementary schools in Northeast Portland, and Rosa Parks Elementary in North Portland.
On the west side, the changes are more to boundaries than they are to the east side. To relieve crowding at Chapman Elementary School, there are boundary shifts toward neighboring Bridlemile and Ainsworth. Bridlemile would become a "split-feeder" — meaning some students would ultimately feed to Wilson High School, and some to Lincoln. Also, the Odyssey magnet program at Hayhurst School would move to the East Sylvan building, to relieve crowding at the Hayhurst building.
While some high school boundaries would change, the scenarios don't suggest moving current high school students.
Portland Public Schools has scheduled a number of community meetings in November to discuss the scenarios. Superintendent Carole Smith is expected to recommend an approach in January to the school board, with a board decision expected in February. Changes could start as soon as Fall 2016.
Editor's Note: some details of the proposals were changed after this story was originally published, to reflect later clarifications communicated by PPS.