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Closing the Young Women's Academy?

Pete Springer/OPB

The state’s only all-girls public school is on a list of potential closures, but a group of concerned parents is hoping to change that. When Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith announced her recommended budget earlier this month, the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women (YWLA for short) was on the list of proposed cuts. A school board vote on April 23 will determine the fate of the small school.

YWLA focuses specifically on math, science and engineering with options for “accelerated learning.” (Middle schoolers can take high school classes when they’re ready.) Students from YWLA got a chance to shine most recently at the PPS Science Expo, where they took home more awards than any other school.

YWLA is an off-shoot of Jefferson High School initiated in 2007 along with a short-lived single-sex program for boys. Smith says she is recommending the closure based on low enrollment — this year, there are 171 girls at the school. This isn’t the first time YWLA has been on the chopping block. In 2010, Smith opted to postpone a decision on closure for two years, which brings us to the choice facing the school board this Monday.

Parents, students, teachers and government officials have launched an effort to save the school, with a detailed plan they say addresses problems with staffing, funding and enrollment.

Do you or your daughter attend the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women? Are you a teacher at the school? What’s your reaction to the proposed closure?


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