Jefferson High on the agenda and three PPS board members are absent

Paul Gronke

The debate over Carole Smith's proposed changes to the Portland Public Schools high school boundaries, transfer policy, and other policies shifted into high gear when the school board proposed a different set of closures, including the sure to be controversial closing of Jefferson High School.

We've had a pretty vigorous debate (here and here) on the new proposals and specifically on Jefferson.

The Board, unfortunately, seems less interested in participating in this debate. I realize the demands that must be placed on the school board members. You have to raise money, run for office, and serve in a highly visible position, all without compensation. I frankly am surprised we find anyone to run.

Still, how can you possibly hold a public meeting on Jefferson's future and have three members of the Board fail to show up --two of whom have already publicly stated that they support closure?

This is a very politically contentious decision for the Board. Wherever they end up regarding Jefferson, the Board must listen and respond to community input and, once a decision is made, stand unified behind the majority's vote. Anything else is a recipe for political disaster.

Scheduling a meeting where three members can't show up to listen to 400 concerned citizens is not a good way to start that process.

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    Jefferson and Marshall, please and thank you.

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    Question: Was this supposed to be a meeting on Jefferson's future? The PPS calendar calls the meeting a working session, and the news coverage I saw last night implied that the Jefferson supporters knew they were imposing on an agenda that wasn't including public feedback or necessarily 'discussing Jefferson's future'.

    If this is the case, perhaps there isn't really much to read into the absence of the three board members.

    I'm conjecturing--so am happy to be corrected.

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    Sorry. The news story focused on the Jefferson decision and turnout.

    And Chris, I don't know. Someone knew since Jefferson folks came in buses. It would surprising if 400 people were coming to a meeting and no one knew ahead of time.

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    This is a none issue for me. There have been so many meetings and opportunities for public input that I am tired of it all. Some persons are just now coming into the process and expect it to start all over. That's not OK. The PPS Board needs to decide and move on to other important issues. Three board members missing an informal hearing added late to the process does not bother me.

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    And we don't know why the news focuses on Jefferson, which has only a marginally more significant minority population than Marshall and has a similar socioeconomic breakdown. It's so frustrating to see the media continue to ignore Portland east of 82nd Avenue and the supporters of Jefferson see this as a one-school fight, not a systemic problem.

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    Both schools should be closed. I've visited both in the last couple of years and was shocked at how run down, dirty and dilapidated both schools have become.

    In both cases, they are serving school populations drastically below their capacity and not doing it well.

    Its only going to get worse as families flee PPS for the suburban district. Close both schools and move on.

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    "Three board members missing an informal hearing added late to the process does not bother me."

    The idea of closing Jefferson was also added late to the process.

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