On the blogs: HS closure poll

9:46 am

Lili Taylor has posted a poll on her blog: “Do you think the PPS administration has already decided which high schools to close?” So far, 100% of respondents have answered “Yes.”

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

filed under: High Schools, School Closures

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20 Responses

  1. Comment from pilbooster:

    Steve, tough not to agree with you about your money being on Jefferson and Franklin.

    However, as it stands now, Marshall kids want to go to Franklin, as witnessed by the large number of transfers from there to Franklin. Franklin has its solid Portland neighborhood location going for it (Marshall is really poorly located for a school), as well the fact it is a fully functioning comprehensive HS RIGHT NOW.

    My question is PPS really willing to close a HS like Franklin, one that already closely resembles their own redesign model for a comprehensive high school?

  2. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    You’re right on the money about the location of Marshall (not so good) and what Franklin has going for it.

    On the other hand, Franklin is really close to Cleveland. One option would be to build something new between Marshall and Franklin. Probably what they’re thinking in N. Pdx. for Roosevelt and Jefferson, too.

    Soften the blow of “closing” a beloved school with the promise of a state-of-the-art facility. Not sure how that would fly, but I’ve heard district mucky-mucks talk like that.

  3. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    THEY ARE GOING TO CLOSE MADISON!!!! I’ve been predicting that for years. It’s a beautiful building, a PRIMO LOCATION—could be used for many things, between the freeway and airport. Remember that building evaluation/study done almost 10 (?) years ago? I rememeber going to those meetings and Madison was high on viability as a piece of real estate to sell. Enrollment after a decade of poor administation–from almost 1300 to 8-900 makes it a prime target for closure. Ship all the Madison kids to Marshall, TA, DA!


  4. Comment from Zarwen:


    Where would they find property to put a new school between Franklin and Marshall? I remember a few years ago, some developer proposed building a new HS in KENTON PARK (yes, you all read that correctly) to serve the Jefferson/Roosevelt populations. Appalling (but not surprising!) to think those discussions are still going on.

  5. Comment from pdxmomto2:

    My bet is they close Madison and Jefferson and build a new school on the old Adams/Whittaker site at NE 42nd and Killingsworth. PCC wants the Jefferson real estate and Madison is on prime commercial land.

  6. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    pdxmomto2—now that’s a theory I can chew on…interesting…..I’ll put my money with your post, sounds do-able to me!

  7. Comment from Steve Buel:

    I don’t think they have made up their mind on which schools to close, or even to close any. But obviously they have thought of the options and have scenarios that they think might work. Hard to even talk about high school design without thinking about it.

    What I do find lacking in this process is an understanding and investigation of the ramifications of the whole thing. I mean, can anyone argue that small boutique-like, stand-alone schools will work –particularly being affordable? It is like pretty much everything happening in education today. You can argue the case, but not with any real depth. Time and again when people at Franklin asked about specifics the answer was, “that hasn’t been decided yet.” Or in otherwords, we really haven’t gone into the depth of understanding it would take to anwer that question.

    So answer these questions then get back to me.

    1) What happens to the excellent programs already available in many schools when they don’t fit into the minimum course options outlined?
    2) Why would we build schools which don’t offer a comprehensive program in high school in the first place and expect kids to choose it because they want what it offers instead of just a safety valve.
    3) What is the exact criteria we will use for school closures and how will we guarantee the decisions won’t be political (or inotherwords revert to the past decision making)? And how will we balance in the effects on each neighborhood from closure?
    4) How will we rearrange the feeder schools to support the high schools in a sensible way?
    5) and 100 or so more questions which have not been addressed.

  8. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    Can someone refresh my memory about which schools PPS has closed but hung onto for possible use as swing space?

  9. Comment from SR:

    Carrie – The more recent building closures were Edwards, Clarendon, Kellogg, Portsmouth, and Rose City Park. RCP isn’t empty now because of the Marysville fire. Are any of the other buildings mentioned still unoccupied?

    Also, other closed buildings are Kenton (now leases to De La Salle), Rice (PPS uses for ??), Meek, Washington (25 years and nothing done), Adams High, Whitaker, Kennedy (beer, anyone?), Glenhaven (razed, property sold), Sacajawea, Youngson, Columbia, Wilcox, Normandale (Head Start).

    There are probably more buildings that were closed but some of them were replaced with newer buildings long ago. It would be interesting to see what’s become of some of these buildings, some of which were rather small and used at the height of the baby boom.

  10. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Jackson High School was closed and turned into Jackson Middle School. Harriet Tubman Middle School was closed and turned into a young women’s academy. Cleveland High School would have been closed but I saved it. Never got any credit for doing it though. At leasst they could have named the library after me or something, put up a plaque, served a Buel burger in the lunchroom, said thank you, something …..

  11. Comment from stephanie:

    Youngson is now being used as part of the Pioneer Special Schools program.

    Steve, thank you for saving Cleveland High School!
    I always loved serving those little rapscallions when I worked at Dots on Clinton. Ahhh the non-tipping high school kids who used their lunch money for cigarettes and coffee. I am not being facetious either, they always made my day.

  12. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    In October 2008 the Board adopted Resolution no. 3986: Criteria to Determine the Order of Rebuilding and Renovation of PPS School Buildings to Create 21st Century Schools.

    “In applying these criteria, the Board directs that the Facilities Condition Index is initially the primary criterion to rank schools selected for rebuilding and renovation; other criteria are modifiers to this criterion.”

    It’s a little risky to rely on the Magellan Facilities Condition Index. The Magellan facilities report identified many schools as not having fire safety systems and it was just reported on KPTV that PPS is reporting all schools have fire safety systems.

    Is the Magellan report inaccurate or has PPS already completed some of the work identified in the reports? Or maybe KPTV was wrong.

    That’s great news if the fire safety systems are no longer an issue. It’s reassuring to know that kids are in safe buildings.

    In addition, it would significantly reduce the amount of taxpayer money needed to upgrade the buildings.

    Here’s a link to the resolution: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files.....N_3986.pdf

  13. Comment from Zarwen:

    In response to some of the questions/issues raised in the previous posts:

    1) Someone mentioned that PCC wants the Jeff real estate. Quite true, but then it also bears mentioning that Concordia U. has been actively trying to acquire the old Adams site too.

    2) Edwards was leased to the MESD almost as soon as it closed. (Gee, could that have had anything to do with the rush to close it?) Meek was extensively remodeled and became the new home of Voc. Village and is now called Joseph Meek Professional Technical High School. Parcels of the Washington HS land have been sold to the city; a sale of the building to a developer had been arranged last year and then fell through. Adams/Whitaker was torn down because the building was unsafe; as for the land, see above. Old Whitaker has been leased and perhaps sold to NAYA. Wilcox is leased to the Columbia Regional Program.

    There are indeed many more; a comprehensive list can be found here:


    I always wanted to write a follow-up to this article; one day soon I am going to have to make myself do it!

    3) Buel, did you know that the family who donated the land for Cleveland HS did so with a legal proviso that it could never be closed, nor used for any other purpose? The deal was that if PPS ever tried to close or sell it, the land would revert back to the family (or their heirs). Quite a foresighted family, back in the 1920′s!

    4) Carrie, you are quite right about not relying on the Magellan Facilities Condition Index, mainly because of the conflicts of interest!

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  14. Comment from Rob Boime:


    If a choice needs to be made between Marshall and Franklin for the comprehensive neighborhood school, then I think Franklin is the better choice. I live in the Franklin cluster and have 2 young kids, so I’ll admit to some personal bias. But as Pilbooster points out, Franklin is much better located for a high school than is Marshall. There are way too many teenager attractions near Marshall: Chuck E. Cheese’s, Burgerville, McDonald’s, bowling, movies, shopping; a veritable amusement park for the 15-18 year-old set. I’ll bet that afternoon class attendence (after lunch) is worse than the morning attendence.

    Also, there are Trimet 4 bus lines (4, 9, 14, and 71) that have stops within walking distance of Franklin and every single one of them goes through the current Marshall cluster area. So if Franklin were to become the Marshall cluster’s comprehensive school, there would be many public transportation options to get there. Marshall, on the other hand is only served well by the #9 bus.

    The proximity of public transporatation works against Franklin as well since that also makes it a good candidate for a focus school. But by making Franklin a focus schoool, the district would be making a choice to the benefit of the district in general and to the detriment of SE Portland children. And those inequities are exactly what the High School Redesign effort is supposed to fix.

  15. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Single standing focus schools is the weak link in the high school redesign. Any focus schools need to be folded into the comprehensive high schools which allows for less closure, larger schools with more flexible options, and activities and athletics being fully supported by having all students on campus. Single standing focus schools brings the same weaknesses in equity and program as the inflexible small schools did. Time for common sense to prevail.

  16. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    Good point Steve B. but that wouldn’t enable the district to close schools which seems to be their goal.

  17. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    The stand-alone aspect is a problem for all the reasons Buel mentions. In Beaverton, (I think) they group a handful of small, special focus high schools together. This can work too, but wouldn’t typically support, say, an athletics program. They also have co-located programs, like a TAG middle school that gives TAG students a small community within a larger, comprehensive middle school with all that comes with that (drama, music, art, athletics, etc.).

    As for closing schools, Carrie is right that they want to close schools, and I believe there are powerful people in this city who would love to develop some of our school properties.

    These people must be stopped.

    But I don’t think having fewer neighborhood high schools is necessarily a problem in and of itself. Beaverton has maintained a very full curriculum at all six of its neighborhood high schools by making them relatively large all at least 2000 students.

    With 11,000 high school students, and assuming at least about a thousand of those are going to go to some kind of alternative school (voc village, night school, charters, etc.), you’re left with 1,000 per school if we evenly distribute what’s left.

    My biggest concern is not just closing schools, but dumping the property for cheap. Given population trends, we’ll be need 10 high schools again in the not-so-distant future, and should absolutely keep all existing properties.

    Meanwhile, given the funding we get from the state, we’ll need larger schools if we want a truly comprehensive program for all.

  18. Comment from Rob Boime:

    Steve R.,

    Just a question rather than a comment. In your initial post you said ‘Madison and Marshall hold the boundaries against leakage to the neighboring districts’. Why is this relevant? Either you live in the district or you don’t. How can physical location of a high school ‘hold the boundaries against leakage’?


  19. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Rob, this concern was expressed to me by a pretty high-level policy person (not at PPS). I interpret this in two ways.

    First, school policy is real estate policy. When families buy or rent a house, proximity to schools, and the quality of those schools (generally judged by test scores) are among the most important criteria.

    If Madison were to close, people considering moving to outer northeast may be more likely to buy or rent east of 82nd (in the Parkrose district) to avoid a lengthy HS commute and all the uncertainty and instability in PPS.

    Also, you can pay modest tuition and send your kids across district boundaries in Oregon. Lake Oswego and Corbett school districts have famously recruited from Portland.

    Every Portland kid who ends up in another district costs PPS real money, so they see a need to “hold the boundaries.” This is especially true given the way some of our neighboring districts have done a much better job keeping things stable over the last two decades while PPS has floundered with high leadership turnover and self-destructive enrollment policies.

  20. Comment from getrowdy:

    It already sounds to me like the “favors” aren’t going away anytime soon, that the people ( or groups of ) who have benefited from having things their way will continue to have their way.
    Here’s one example =
    I recently heard that one of the more “popular” high schools will stay a neighborhood school but also have some sort of special program/focus option feature. At first, this surprised me, but then I thought more about it and it all makes sense..this isn’t about REALLY wanting to offer a certain program at this school but has more to do with finding some way to maintain a lottery system at this particular school. This school is known for it’s great athletic teams and we know of many out-of-the-area kids who are now at this school who had prior contact with certain coaches there. And of course they made the team they tried out for. Just a coincidence? HHmm…
    So here’s how the behind-the-scenes discussion goes..
    instead of ” what type/types of special program can we or do we want to offer at [name of school}, but this- ” how can we keep a lottery going at { name of school}. Perhaps the info. I heard isn’t accurate but I wouldn’t, for one second, put anything like this past PPS. Things have pretty much turned out the way they have due to this type of mauevering/ non-pulic discussion. Power to the people ( = those with $$ ).