High School closure rumors continue

11:39 am

Rumors of Franklin High School’s possible closure have begun in advance of a community meeting on high school redesign there, with legitimacy conferred by a neighborhood newspaper which does not cite any district sources, and then picked up, also without confirmation, by the Mercury.

Similar rumors made there way around e-mail lists and blogs in advance of meetings at Grant, Cleveland and Jefferson High Schools. Portland Public Schools administrators have consistently denied that any schools have already been slated for closure.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Facilities, High Schools, Media

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9 Responses

  1. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    The Mercury got around to contacting PPS, who gave their usual denial that their considering any specific schools for closure.

  2. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    I’ll bet my entire PERS account (what’s left in it), that the district KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT SCHOOLS ARE GOING TO CLOSE. Period. Amen.


  3. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    You may be right, Merry, but it can’t possibly be they’re going to close them all, which is what the rumor mill would have us believe…. Kind of like religions. If they’re all correct, everybody’s going to hell!

  4. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    Steve, ROFLOL!!! Well, nothing would surprise me anymore—the rumors have been flying for years, but methinks that a whole lot of decisions are made before all this “discussion” goes on with the community, etc. The district has been playing the “public input” game for years, they tried it with teachers for awhile, like WE have any part in decision making, ha! Cynicism aside, it would be really nice to see a major NEW implemenation-du-jour actually be a result of input from community, teachers, parents. Would do a lot to restore trust with the PPS.

  5. Comment from pilbooster:

    The SE Examiner article was exactly as Matt Shelby states in the Mercury: incomplete information. The author, a Franklin parent, allowed the SE Examiner to look at some basic talking points she was distributing to the Franklin community. Unfortunately they then left out much of the basic information in the actual article.

    That being said, over the past 5 years Franklin’s borders have been reduced, its one true middle school feeder was closed (Kellogg, the K-8 Creston that “replaced” it has 220 kids total), and generally the school seems to have been short-changed by the district.

    Despite this it is a still a relatively well functioning comprehensive high school.

    Also, PPS as far as I know, has not yet come up with criteria as to how they are going to choose what schools to close or become focus-option.

    Without an overt and well-defined criteria, rumors will continue to swirl, the appearance of behind the door decision, will continue, and circumstantial evidence will continue to be used to guess which schools will close.

  6. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    @pilbooster, you nailed it. It’s totally understandable how these rumors get started. The HS design team has either kept in-depth analysis from the public at every step of this process, or they simply haven’t done it in the first place. I’m not sure which is more frightening.

    But it’s ridiculous for media outlets, no matter how far out of the mainstream, to fan their flames without some cursory fact chceking.

    Take the Merc’s headline (“Franklin and Marshall High Schools Face Closure”) and lede (“Sound the SE Portland alarm bells.”) Lazy, inaccurate and irresponsible.

    @Miss Merry, I actually think public input, in this case, was very influential in steering the redesign effort toward a neighborhood comprehensive model. The team was lead by John Wilhelmi, a die-hard “small schools” proponent, and Sarah Singer, a former Broad Foundation resident. Without strong public public support for comprehensives, we’d likely be looking at some kind of “boutique” model, with no common basis for a high school education in Portland. And we already know how well that works!

  7. Comment from Zarwen:

    Well, I’m gonna chime in here to support Merry Sunshine. I, too, believe that our fearless leaders at PPS have long since decided which high schools they plan to close. They will announce it in June, just as school is getting out and people are scattering for the summer, so that they will not have to face any organized opposition. That is what they always do.

  8. Comment from pilbooster:

    Huge turnout at Franklin tonight, perhaps 600-700 people, with many students attending.

    A couple of things: when asked about the criteria for deciding how schools will be judged, there was some new specificity:

    1. Proximity of the school (not clear what they mean by this), perhaps to the community center?

    2. Ease of transportation/access (which seems related to proximity?)

    3. Site/facility “optimization” for program siting.

    Carole Smith did have some strong words about her feeling the pain of schools that have been neglected due to past PPS decisions. And that she wanted to directly acknowledge that fact.

    My main concern is that the panel said these meetings were not meant to discuss closure, but there doesn’t seem like a mechanism in place for a public discussion of that matter: the PPS panel said decisions will be made late winter/early spring to then present to the board.

  9. Comment from pilbooster:

    Correction: day after estimates have the crowd at Franklin between 1,500 to 2,000 people. Standing room only in Franklin’s auditorium and balcony, and overflow went into classrooms with live feesd of the meeting.