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Portland Public Schools has made some decisions about changes to Inner Southeat schools -- but not all of them

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - These are students of Lane Middle School shown leaving the building on the last day of school, June 10th. Lanes student enrollment, 360, is below the 500 that PPS prefers for middle schools. Boundary changes will feed more graduating fifth graders into Lane by the fall of 2023. After two long years of studying, meeting, deliberating, and collaborating with parents and community members, Portland Public Schools made a final decision on boundary changes for Southeast Portland schools at its May 24th Board Meeting.

However, the PPS decision was not one that the Southeast Guiding Coalition (SEGC) is happy with. The SEGC is a volunteer group of parents, community members, and school leaders who came together in May of 2021 to collaborate with the PPS Board regarding boundary and enrollment changes. The Board would then eventually recommend changes to create more enrollment balance and equity in some Southeast Portland schools.

One of the SEGC's concerns is that some Inner Southeast Portland schools were left essentially untouched in the process. Those include Llewellyn, Duniway, Grout, Winterhaven, Abernethy, Buckman, Sunnyside, and Richmond. The Board may deal with these schools at some point, but many of them are overcrowded and in relatively affluent communities in Southeast Portland. At this point, no changes have been recommended for those schools.

The decision made, says the School Board, is one based on research and recommendations from Portland Public Schools administration. This final decision means that, in the Fall of 2023, Lane Middle School's boundary will be expanded. Some students that would previously have been sent to Sellwood and Hosford Middle Schools will now be assigned to Lane. The intent is to boost Lane's enrollment, allowing it to increase the diversity of its electives, increase resources and services to students and families, and provide stability to its funding over time.

As part of this change, any Lewis School graduating fifth graders living east of 52nd Avenue will be assigned to Lane Middle School. However, students living east of 52nd Avenue and who currently already attend Lewis will have the opportunity to either stay at Lewis until its highest-grade level, or to transfer immediately to Whitman Elementary. All students living east of 52nd Avenue just starting elementary school will now be going to Whitman Elementary.

As reported in the March issue of THE BEE, one decision already made earlier in the year was for both the "Mandarin Immersion Program" (DLI) and the "Neighborhood Program" to stay co-located at Woodstock School. This will retain Woodstock's enrollment of 500 students, and won't diminish its diversity.

However, the destination middle school will change for Woodstock Elementary students. Neighborhood Program fifth graders will attend Lane Middle School starting in Fall of 2023. Mandarin Immersion students at Woodstock will instead go to Harrison Park Middle School, which is being converted from a K-8 school into a full middle school. Creston Elementary School will send their graduating fifth graders to Hosford, instead of Kellogg.

The grade structure of neighborhood programs at Creston, Arleta, Marysville, and Lent Schools changed from being K-8 to being K-5 in the fall of 2021.

Although the above changes will begin in the fall of 2023, Portland Public Schools' multi-year process to develop a plan to balance student enrollment and programs across the district will continue for other schools. The district has said it will use both data-driven analysis and community input to address the needs of equity and inclusion, and transportation and facilities constraints, among other needs in PPS schools of all levels.

THE BEE will continue to report on this as the process continues. To see reports from the SEGC, and recommendations from the PPS Board, go online — www.pps.net/Page/13615


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