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Should Benson Let In More Students?

Industrial leaders are pressing Portland Public Schools to let more students into the district’s polytechnical high school.

Two years ago, PPS redesigned high schools. That process closed Marshall and limited Benson High to accepting only 250 freshmen per year.

Benson’s alumni chair, Rob Johns, disagrees with the limits.

He’s gotten industry executives from companies like Vigor and Greenbrier to sign a letter asking the governor to “overrule PPS’s position” on Benson.

“Given the limitations that Portland Public Schools has placed on Benson – now we’re looking at two years in a row we’re looking at 200 kids that will not get in - that this really needs to be addressed at a higher level,” Johns said.

Portland administrator Judy Brennan says the district can’t expand Benson because that would reduce enrollment at comprehensive, neighborhood schools that need to grow.

“Until we have all our comprehensives around the right size, we’re not looking to grow any of our programs – and that’s not just Benson,” Brennan said.

Brennan says balancing neighborhood and magnet programs will be a focus of an upcoming evaluation of transfer policies. 

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