These are the People in Your Neighborhood

Karol Collymore

I admit that children or schools are not my most important social issues.  I’m not ready to have children, I don’t like when they are making noise anywhere, and I especially don’t like it when I’m trying to sleep in on the weekend and the kid up the block knocks at 9 am and asks wash my car.  But the happenings with the Portland Public School budget shortfalls and my chore friendly neighbor got me thinking: What exactly are people just like me going to do about this? 

My neighbor – we’ll call him “Chris” – is a great kid.  Aside from the morning wake up calls, I’ve gotten used to having him around.  One day while he was watching me bake, he told me that he gets up early everyday and takes almost an hour and a half bus ride to another school in SE Portland.  We live in St. Johns.  His mom didn’t feel that our neighborhood school was giving him what he needed so she entered him into a school lottery.  He won.  Its no secret that lower income neighborhood schools usually do not get a fair shake with teachers, supplies, and building structure.  I worry now that my school, James John Elementary, is going to be dealt an even worse hand. 

On OPB this morning, Judy Peppler from Qwest suggested shutting down some schools to stay on budget during the big school budget meeting called by Mayor Potter.  She compared it to her own company shutting down call centers in various states.  I couldn’t believe it.  Do we really want to cram even more children into a classroom to get taught to a “No Child Left Behind” test?   Portland already averages some of the highest classroom sizes in the country.  I don’t know that it would come to this, but I do think the better solutions is finding money, not stealing kids educations.  I also don’t want my neighbors to send their kids to elsewhere when they deserve great service in their own neighborhood.   The problem may be Portland itself.  There is a large population of childless couples.  Last I heard, only about 30% of Portlanders had school-aged children. 

Now let me take this from a different angle.  I bought a house about 6 months ago in St. Johns.  I didn’t do it because I liked the neighborhood, I did it because the place was changing and I would get a great return on the place.  So far, my expectations have been met and it turns out I really love my little corner of Portland.  I know that there are a lot of youngish Portlanders who have done the same in various parts of North and Northeast.  What is going to happen to our real estate prices?  Is it a possibility that by ignoring the issue we are costing ourselves money in the long run?  I’m not going to buy a house where the school is overcrowded or where there isn’t a school at all.  That says to me that my house is going to be harder to sell in 5 years.  Am I right?

My question is what do we do?  How do we protect our neighbor’s children (and our future offspring) and our investments?

Side note:  Shout out to little Chris who does wash my car, mow my lawn, helps in my garden, and gets to eat too many treats when he visits. 

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    Its no secret that lower income neighborhood schools usually do not get a fair shake with teachers, supplies, and building structure.

    Karol....I have trouble buying into the idea that schools in lower income neighborhoods get less when it comes to supplies or facilities.

    What they do get shorted on is experienced teachers. The union contract allows the teachers with seniority to pick the areas of town they want to teach in, rather than be assigned by the administration. Unless the contract is changed, that inequity will continue.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    It gives me a good feeling to see this post. This is electrifying, with its context more than its content, which is already nourishing. Big up.

    Some thoughts arrived in the energies stirring to life for school funding. Unexpectedly, I can be short:

    1. The increased (and increasing) cost for schooling our K-12 children obviously results from television, watching, too much, graduating illiterate, acting out in social misbehaviors imitated from television.

    An extensive documented argument 'proves' that Thought 1. The consensus of informed views upholds it. The dispute with it tends to appear as a pre-existing condition, that is, someone predetermined to disagree disregards whatever argument and 'proof' is or could be offered.

    1. Tax television and radio advertising -- say, a 10% surcharge on broadcasting station sales of commercial airtime, a tax the advertising buyer pays -- and appropriate the new tax revenue to 'Schooling Repair Funds' helping pay for the corrective processes which recover children's thinking and minds from the damages of broadcast contamination.

    Thought 2. is also obvious. In brief.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    By all something, anything, maybe make up for the failures of the parents of all the under performing brats.

    How about....if a child does not satisfactorily complete each year of school with acceptable test scores, grades, and attendance....then that child's parents lose teh right to claim that child on their federal and state tax returns for that particular year. The feds and the state would then forward the money forfeited by the parent for crummy parenting back to the childs school district to fund remedial programs aimed at the darling little social misfits. There should be a steep price for lazy ineffective parenting.

    Just a thought.

  • LT (unverified)

    Charlie G. The filing deadline for legislature isn't until next month. Why not channel that anger into a legislative campaign. Or work on a legislative campaign. More productive than spewing anger here.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Thanks for your thoughts, Karol. I enjoy reading your posts.

    I'm a PPS teacher who has taught in every quadrant over the past ten years.

    North Portland has at least two very good elementary schools: Astor and Chief Joseph. Families who are connected to their child's success in school is the main factor in any school. If teachers like the school and the kids and the principal they usually don't mind working long long hours even though they would still make the same money as the teachers up at Forest Heights at 105% benchmark or so.

    It's been said before that schools are like a three-legged stool -- the kid, the family and the teacher. You need all three to be successful.

    Why did Whitaker fail? I taught there, so I'll take some blame, I guess. The five principals in the last five or six years there take the hit too. But, I do remember many PTA meetings where we not only did not have enough people for a meeting, we didn't have enough people to play a game of bridge.

    BTW, I have run into THREE former Whitaker kids this week. One is a wrestling champ on his way to scholarships, the other is heading east college to be a psychologist and the last is at Lincoln working hard after school at my favorite Greek restaurant. What do they have in common? They worked HARD... very very hard in school.


  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    LT!!!! Yesterday I signed up to do all I can for Ben Westlund! It's going to be a busy election season!

    No real anger here....I'm just tired of the teachers, politicians, and taxpayers all being blamed by one faction or another for lil Johnny and Suzy Q's bad performance and citizenship....while the bad parenting (across ALL socio-economic levels) is all but ignored.

    Thanks for the advice anyway dear! GO BEN!

  • Back to work, Sid!! (unverified)

    Ran into them during the school day at Nordstroms, did you Sid??

    The school district says it's inappropriate for staff to be blogging during work hours, unless on scheduled breaks and regardless of the educator's placement.


    Respectfully yours,

    Carol Mattorazzo's Aura

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    Karol-- fine article otherwise, but your contention about class sizes in Portland isn't backed up by the data. Not only is Portland right around the state average--below it in one category, in fact--it boasts one of the lower numbers in the metro area. Beaverton? Way higher. Oregon City? Higher. Gresham? Higher. Lake Oswego--the richest school district in the state and the only district to have all schools rated excellent--higher. Tigard-Tualatin? MUCH higher.

    Figures here.

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    Thanks Joe. I got my info from my Stand For Children organizer, who I also happen to shack up with. As I openly admitted, I don't focus on children's issues, but I should practice good research in my new blogging endeavor.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    The PPS contract says I have one hour duty-free during my work day to do anything I want, like hunt fat birds that can't fly with my shotgun. The contrat says I have an hour a day to do anything I want.

    It is called... lunch.

    Chow, baby, chow.

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    Karol-- Glad to help. I checked your other facts, too--according to Census 2004, households with children represent about 25% of all households. The percentage of Portland residents aged 5-19 was 17.6% in 2000; 16.9% in 2004. As you can see, the figures are as stark if not starker than you portray. The City disagrees with the total population figures, but at least its apples-to-apples comparison at the Census site.

    Two out of three ain't bad! You did a nice job encapsulating the issue for someone who "doesn't pay attention." :)

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    Joe, Are we saying that perhaps not as much attention is being paid to school issues because only 25% have little ones in school? I think that is quite telling. How do we get communities to plan for their own futures, in regards to children's educations?

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    Karol--no, I don't think that's the case. I think plenty of attention is being paid to school issues; however, an intractable fact is that Portland gets no more money for schools than the state allows, unless they raise revenue on their own. The sentiment for raising revenue is, as we all know, pretty low right now.

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    I have trouble buying into the idea that schools in lower income neighborhoods get less when it comes to supplies or facilities.

    As a PPS parent, I disagree. My experience is that lower income neighborhoods do, as a matter of course, get far less support because the parents and surrounding community can't raise as much money.

    At Abernethy, our SE Portland neighborhood school, the PTA raises money every year to pay for the things like our part-time librarian, music teacher and gym teacher. We volunteer in the classrooms to offset the need to pay teachers' aides, we take care of the grounds, we raise money for playground equipment, we paint the school's halls. Heck, I even buy cleaning supplies for his kindergarten classroom. In Portland's most wealthy neighborhoods, local school foundations are raising hundreds of thousands each year.

    Somehow, I doubt that elementary schools in lower income parts of NE and North Portland are raising as much.

    The sad reality is that we are moving to a two-tiered system where low-income schools can't raise money and richer schools can. Some day, when the middle-class families can't or won't raise enough to support quality schools, then the flight to private schools, suburbs and other states will become more pronounced.

    I wouldn't worry about the value of your house, Karol. Just look at San Francisco. Only poor kids are left in their public school system but the real estate values are still high. Unfortunately for those of us with families, I think that's where Portland seems to be headed.

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    Would someone tell me why the local veep of a Colorado-based phone company is commenting on Portland's schools? For the love of god, it's the PHONE COMPANY!

    Unless, of course, they're interviewing her as just another concerned citizen -- but she's getting way too much attention if that's the case...

    So I gotta ask: Why does anyone - me, you, elected officials, or the media - give a damn what the phone company thinks about our school funding situation?

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    A good question Kari. I saw the list of those invited by Potter to his "summit" yesterday. There are several on the list that had me shaking my head and some of the omissions were a bit troubling.

    Two key groups that atleast on the surface looked under represented:

       Residents with no school age children which comprise 70% 
       of all households in the area.
       East county business representation was also pretty limited.
       That seems a bit short sighted.

    I also believe that the neighborhood school's PTA organizations should begin reaching out to non-parent citizens in their neighborhoods to participate. Non-parent households are all but ignored by both the schools and the PTA.....atleast until we want their tax money.

  • k. (unverified)

    Leslie is right - the disparity between schools in poor vs middle of the road vs wealthy neighborhoods isn't caused by actual school funding; it's caused by the ability of the parents to contribute be it financially or on a volunteer level.

    I volunteer with a group that is helping a low-income school become more efficient in a number of ways (parental involvement, fundraising, etc - not classroom help). I don't have children and I live in a comfortable neighborhood with lots of parental involvement and a healthy dose of auctions, etc to help fund various things for the students and teachers. I grew up in a neighborhood where this was common. My introduction to the problems this low-income school faced was shocking. I simply had no idea. Yes, I know that PPS is in dire straits and I know there were differences between various schools in the district but I didn't understand WHY.

    The school that I volunteer for has a disportionate number of ESL students from MANY cultures. This brings problems that many of us are unaware. We know parental involvement is good but when a student's parent(s) cannot speak the language, they frequently feel uncomfortable or are clueless how to interact with the student (school-wise) or the school. There are ways that we can address this but too often, we don't due to lack of time or money. When a principal or teacher is stretched to the limit with a too-full class, and can't speak the language, how does they reach out to that parent? A teacher or principal sends a note home. Parent is unable to read it due to a language barrier. Again, parent is left out and student suffers for it. I could go on. We know what happens when too many parents aren't involved: Grades, delinquency, behavioral issues, learning curves, etc, not for all kids but definitely some. One kid with behavioral problems creates problems for all the kids in his/her class.

    Then you have the plethora of fundraisers (whether it be cookie sales or auctions) that schools in my neighborhood has. You buy some cookies, parents go to the auction, things aren't great but you can do it. You have parents that know how to organize, know how to go into the business community and ask for donations, etc. In a very poor neighborhood, who do the parents ask? When you are watering down your powdered milk, do you spare the $5 to buy the candy bar? Even if your school has an auction (with items donated by contacts you don't have), how do you buy that weekend beach trip on minimum wage? If you're working 2 jobs to put food on the table, when do you find the time to fundraise for auction items no one can afford anyway?

    Everyone in the community can get involved, no matter your profession, your talents, etc. A few weeks ago there was an article about some professional organizers that helped a school get organized. Not your typical thought about volunteering but it was very helpful. In the group that I work with, there is an architect firm that is helping us design a new, more welcoming entryway that we're hoping we can raise funds for (a process we plan to teach to the parents). During a brainstrom session, one teacher walked away with new possibilities of reaching the parents of his Hispanic students and possibly securing some multi-lingual volunteers from the Hispanic community.

    These things aren't rocket science but when you're overstretched and you're running from one crisis to the next, you don't have the time or energy to think of new ways to reach parents, raise funds or improve your school. If each school had a community think tank, made up of business leaders, parents, teachers, a few retirees perhaps, we could help these schools breathe in new energy and new ideas to make their school a better place.

    We're just getting started with "my" school and things are already looking brighter.

    Those of us who are childless can't afford to leave this to the parents in the community; it belongs to all of us. One day, the kids in the neighborhood might be our own or the smart kid who never learned to read and dropped out might be breaking into our home. I hate taxes, I really do. But we simply can't afford to ignore this problem. We either pay the bill now or we pay a larger one later.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Seeing as it's quitting time, I'd like to thank "k" for a very thoughtful post on why schools in some neighborhoods do better than those in others. I'd also like to thank "k" and all PPS volunteers for helping out. God knows we need it.

    As for Karol's original post on how much money NE schools get versus SW schools, I know this.

    Whitaker got a ton of federal desegregation money and some more NCLB money. That meant smaller classes. My math kids went up 50% on their test scores, but that was not enough since they were all three-five grades behind.

    The NCLB money included free tutors for anyone at a "priority school" that signed up, but guess what?

    Only 10 percent of the families (nationwide) who qualify for tutors actually sign up. They know about it, but pass for whatever reason. Our percentage at Whitaker was a bit higher, but not much.

    As has been reported, the federal deseg money is gone and the hard times are really here after fifteen years of slashed budgets, dashed arts classes, meetings, committees, sub-committees and reports. Oh the reports!

    I can tell you what the NEW report will say right now: more money, please.

    Because if money didn't matter in schools, Harvard would cost $5,000 a year, not $50,000.

  • Tony Larson (unverified)

    Sid's right. Low socio economic schools benefit from a wide range of additional allocations, not the least of which are SES and Title I (federal) resources.

    Low SES programs maintain the lowest student to staff ratios, and rightly so. It will take a modification to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires June 30, 2006, to effect changes in staffing allocation methodologies for senior/"tenured" staff.

    While the desegregation resource legislation was allowed to sunset on June 30, 2005, we must recall that the district bargained for this.. and received a higher possible local option cap in return. A difficult conversation, in not many words.

    Not a large number of high SES programs benefit appreciably from "major" non-district based resources like Schools Foundation or corporate support. It's the mushy middle that merely slogs along.

    For a good review of staffing allocation resource patterns, across the PPS district, please go to the following link, click on the 2005-2006 PPS District budget link and proceed to pages 35 to 38 of the .pdf file.


  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Thanks to Tony for his post.

    I forgot a good school in North Portland called Clarendon. It has some fine teachers and staff doing wonderful things with a creative, multicultural group of young people. Two of the teachers, Kevin and Donna, mounted an original opera last year, with a big downtown premiere, as I remember, and they are doing the same thing this year. Good luck to them.

    I worked at Clarendon many years ago and enjoyed it. I also did long-term stints as a substitute at Chief Joseph and Astor and was very impressed with both.

    There are many positive things happening all over North Portland schools, like all the quadrants, you just have to go looking for it.

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    There was a story on CNN today about the students who can get the free tutors:

    The low numbers of tutored students are not because of a lack of interest, but because some schools make getting help nearly impossible for parents, tutoring advocates said. Their examples: • Publicity that is so filled with jargon that parents don't understand it. "It needs to say two words: free tutoring," said Leigh Hopkins, vice president for education at Public/Private Ventures, a nonprofit think tank. • Registration sessions are held in the middle of the work day, when parents cannot attend. • School administrators and school board members who make it difficult for tutors to get time or space inside schools, or even to talk directly to teachers. Panelists also spoke of schools and districts that dissuade parents from accepting tutoring on grounds that it would eat up federal aid that schools need for other reasons.

    You can read the entire story here.

  • Michael "the Lib" (unverified)

    We get a lot of info, correct or otherwise comparing salaries, healthcare benefits, etc., but we never hear, or read in the press anything about the overhead cost. How do the schools in Portland compare when it comes to cost for items such as utilities? Because many of the buildings are older does PPS have higher gas and electricity cost? How about for phone and computer services? Are the taxpayers getting the best deal possible there? Any and all comment will be appreciated. Thanks, M.

  • Ruth Akdins (unverified)

    Michael, I don't know specifics on the district's utilities or phone/computer costs but their building support costs as a share of the budget are in line with Beaverton's, and Beaverton generally has newer buildings/infrastructure.

    You can get lots of PPS budget/spending info at:

    It is true that PPS has a big backlog of maintenance and capital building improvements, like furnace upgrades etc. Why? because they have been cutting their maintenance/building budget rather than in the classroom over the last several years, to keep the classroom as intact as possible. Also, the 10 year (I think) capital bond expired last year along with the local option (everyone noticed their property tax bill went DOWN last fall, right?).

    Our beautiful, historic neighborhood school buildings do need more money to keep them in great shape. It's all part of the investment that a great public school system requires. A great public school system with quality schools in every neighborhood.

    As for Madam Peppler--outrageous. She has a lot of nerve with her company paying $10 a year in corporate taxes (and she herself likely enjoying Bush's rich people's tax cut) coming to the summit and saying we need to treat our schools like call centers.

    For one thing, it doesn't even add up--you don't save much more than the cost of a principal and secretary's salary when you close a school (not even factoring in the loss of revenue due to families leaving the district, increased busing costs, increased traffic/congestion, health impact of kids no longer getting daily exercise walking to school, etc.). We could close dozens of schools and still not come close to closing the $57 million budget gap for PPS. Peppler is full of it.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    If PPS didn't fire most of its building maintenance department to save money back in the day, radon and mold would not have been allowed to mushroom to a point it has poisoned the entire Whitaker MS site.

    The radon and mold also made the kids and teachers who worked there sick for years and did not help test scores, for sure. Hard to take a state standardized test when your head is throbbing from the mold and radon under your feet.

    PPS is currently paying a million dollars or so to keep Whitaker more or less a dump, according to a graphic front page story in the Portland Tribune.

    So, now you know what happens when budgets get cut. Bad things.

  • David Wynde (unverified)

    Whoa, Sid!

    PPS is not paying a million dollars or so to keep Whitaker a dump. The annual costs of security and maintenance are just over $100,000. It will cost about $1.8 milllion to demolish the buidling. Current plan is to sell a portion of the property for housing and t use the proceeds towards cost of a new school on that site, along with some of the funds fromt he Washington HS site.

  • Lisa (unverified)

    Sid has a very strong point about things that happen when budgets get cut, voters. This is very important to pay attention to. Complain all you want in years to come about cuts made now, but remember that we had some control (if only a little) through our elections.

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    My kingdom for a cartoonist - is one listening out there? Here's the sequence:

    panel 1: Judy Peppler "maybe PPS should close schools the way we close call centers"

    panel 2: PPS school child stepping off a school bus in Bangalore India: "my classroom got outsourced to India"

  • Tony Larson (unverified)

    Yah yah... WHOAAAAAAA SID !!

    David's right on... so kill that extra zero. :)

    Facilities is running lean and mean..errrr... forever optimistic !! Duel firing boilers, smart contracting, energy audits and deep relationships with our partners in industry means that the Facilities and Asset Management Department remains cognizant of remedying past issues with an eye on positioning the district for future successes.

    Those who haven't reviewed Portland Public Schools 2002 Health and Safety Handbook, can do so at:

    For those wanting to play "compare and contrast", amongst major funds and function codes... please go to this site (ODE):

    Then click on "Budgeted Expenditures and Functions" ('bout 7th item in the lineup), highlight the 2005-2006 School Year, click the "Submit Query" right next to the school year choice, highlight your choice of school district in the top box and highlight "no ESDs" in the bottom box,... then click on the "View Report" sunglasses in the top right of the page...

    OK.. Most folks just want the rough analysis from 7,000-10,000 feet,.. so Technology Services was mentioned.. that is Function Code 2660. You will find this function code in the General Fund Series (100) and the Special Revenue Fund Series (200), under "Support Services". From here, you can ascertain the "General Fund Total" or the "All Funds Total" (make sure your desired code doesn't also show up in other funds, and if it does add it in there to get to the All Funds number...)..

    Next.. Find your desired district's student population (ADMr).. please make sure you are comparing 2005-2006 enrollments to 2005-2006 budget numbers.. Call your district's administrative hotline for 2005-2006. This tends to be right at the tip of their tongues and easy easy easy.. For earlier years, you might want to look at the School Profiles pages for ODE:

    The state's "Big Five" districts are currently: Portland, Salem-Keizer, Beaverton, Hillsboro and Eugene.

    Divide your budget total(s) by your AMDr figure(s) to get ONE form of basic level for analysis.

    REMEMBER: This is your 10,000 foot level of analysis.. from here other questions are formed. No "AHA!!" moments allowed...

    What kind of student populations are being served? High cost equipment required under regulation, statute or court order for low population, high needs, students? Did a capital bond entering into force, is in force or recently expired? What is the typical replacement cycle for the type of equipment being used? Does education use, by way of wear and tear, differ appreciably from enterprise or personal use? How many people "touch" the equipment? How does material cycle through the target population? Community access to tech infrastructure? What is the effect of technology on a district's human resources? What benchmarks for professional development exist? Where are we? Impact on curriculum, or perhaps better,.. what is the impact of curriculum on our technology choices? What are the standards applied by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools??..etc.,..

    THEN we're in a position to get REALLY geeky... :)


  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    Hmmmmmm.....Mr Wynde....the PPS board is actually planning on building one or more new schools? With enrollment on a steady decline I guess that's a bit of a surprise. Hopefully means you intend to close a couple of schools and sell that property?

    With PPS enrollment destined to drop below 40,000 students and unlikely to ever go back above that, the board is looking five years out at the likely properties that can be sold off. Even with the current enrollment of 46,800, the size of PPS facilities inventory is well beyond reason.

  • David Wynde (unverified)


    PPS enrollment is forecast to level off at around 45,000 by the end of the decade. As to school closures and property sales, we have done both in the past several years. My expectation is that we will continue to look at the current buildings and try to ensure that we have the right buidlings in place to meet the needs of kids in every corner of the district. Right now the average age of PPS school buildings is 65 years; long-term we may need to do some replacements if we can pass a capital bond to do so.

  • Nicole Breedlove (unverified)

    Karol, Thanks for asking what we can do to support our public schools in order to protect our youth and our neighborhoods. I think one thing we can do is to lobby for statewide corporate tax reform. The burden of Oregon income taxes and property taxes has shifted from corporations to individuals over the past few decades. Oregon now has among the lowest corporate taxes in the country, and our schools and other public services are suffering because of it.

    Kari, I think we SHOULD be listening to what corporate executives like Judy Peppler of Qwest/PBA are saying because, although many don't want to pay their fair share of taxes to adequately fund public schools, corporations and business interests are heavily involved in determining the future direction of our school district.

    Here's a quote from the Gates Foundation grant that was awarded this fall to PPS and the Portland Schools Foundation, titled "The Secondary Level Transformation Initiative": "Upon selection of the management firm, the transformation process will be led by the Superintendent with advice from a steering comittee, which she will chair, with membership including the Schools Foundation and select business leaders. A working team including the School District's Chief Operating Officer, Chief HR Officer and Broad Fellows will lead the transformation internally. In addition, the Portland Schools Foundation has established an advisory group of business leaders who will provide guidance and counsel throughout the process." pg. 10

    Since Judy was a co-chair of the School Efficiency and Quality Advisory Council (, I wonder if she will be included among those "select business leaders" who will be involved in transforming PPS. I hope not.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    I agree PPS has taken back control of the buildings and their upkeep after years of neglect due to slashed budgets. The Portland Tribune put the figure at $900,000+ after this next year, so I was off a bit. Sorry.

    To Karol and anyone interested: I have presented my future plan to replace Whitaker to the super and the board: a new technology magnet middle school that has two ladders -- industrial arts (the shops) and high tech (computers and video). Students would pick a major field of study but could take classes across the curriculum to limit "tracking". The new school would have a theatre, double gyms, a weight room and an indoor swimming pool so all the facilities would be used as a neighborhood community center nights and weekends.

    A principal told me The Oregon Symphony once handed PPS a check for a million dollars if they could use the new Whitaker auditorium and practice rooms at night and weekends. That means there is corporate money out there. Some plans even called for a few retail shops which would make sense if... BESC and the warehouse and food services are also moved to a new "tower" built next door to the new school. The Whitaker site is very easy to get to with access from I-84, Columbia Boulevard and 33rd avenue. There are shops and the Kennedy Theatre and New Seasons right down the street. It makes economic sense, since you could build a new MS and BESC tower and warehouse for $20 million or so, which is a fraction of the pile PPS will collect when they sell the big orange elephant called headquarters.

    And best of all, the middle school students could team up with BESC workers for internships, job partnerships and even mentorships. Plus, there would be a brand new community center for a neighborhood that has none.

    That's my idea.

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    There are also a lot of organizations and groups that look for a nice place to meet, hold fundraisers, dinners, events, etc.

    They want something that looks nice (so not a cafeteria in one of the old, crumbling schools), but not formal/expensive (so not the convention center, a ballroom, etc.). Often times a cafeteria, auditorium, etc. that has good upkeep and an adequate number of tables/chairs/seats will do.

    The amount of money you can make can quickly add up-- if you price it right.

    I know the Multnomah County Dems have been looking for an affordable place that can hold at least a few hundred people comfortably. There have to be more groups like this that are looking for a place to hold their monthly meetings.

    If it's done right, you could regularly have the theatre, gyms, cafeteria (even better if it's a cafetorium, as it has a stage), etc. regularly rented out in the evenings and weekends. The public could then purchase cheap memberships to the gym, pool, etc. and use it when school was not in session.

    When I did the county dems' spaghetti dinner in 2004 I used one of PPS' high schools. It was a good sized room, worked well with the stage, etc. However, the cafeteria was a bit run down, it was impossible to get any help from the custodial staff (which we paid for), tables promised were not available and the ones that were had not even been moved into the cafeteria, etc.

    The district should really take into consideration community use of the schyools after-hours when building and renovating schools. By doing so, they could bring in some extra money-- without raising taxes-- and give the community a resource. Instead the buildings are sitting there unused much of the time.

    And having readily available information in one place (a PDF on the web site, an easily mailed/faxed packet, etc.) so that people can see which facilities are available, how many it can hold, how many tables/chairs/seats are actually available, features (such as the use of the cafeteria, sound system, etc.), pricing, and the like would really help as well. Instead right now the process is so complex that few are willing to navigate it.

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    class size is not about averages. averages never tell a true story. to know the real difficulty with class sizes, you have to find out how many kids particular teachers have for specific classes.

    take my son's chemistry class at Corvallis High. brand new school, wonderfully built and designed to promote excellence. the chem lab stations are great, islands that allow the students to stand or sit as needed. Tom Martin, a fabulous teacher, has at least 2 too many kids in my son's class, and probably in all his classes. that's right; he's over-capacity in a brand new school. for all his classes (i think 5 per day), he has daily assignments, weekly check-in's, regular exams, and finals; that's just the testing part. he also has lesson plans, kids dropping in after school, department meetings, special meetings with kids who have problems (my son met with him this fall, and the result was an incredible grade rescue by the end of Winter quarter; thanks, Tom), and supporting the kids at school events. and for the days prior to an exam, he holds after-school study sessions. i also think he has a family; imagine that. and while Tom is extraordinary, he's not that far beyond what most CHS, and Corvallis SD, teachers do.

    we go through this over and over, and there remain those who choose to ignore what is required of our public school teachers. few people in our society work as hard as they do; even an "average" teacher puts in more hours than the paycheck covers. it's a job that takes a toll on people, and being treated like an enemy -- by kids, by parents, by society -- does even more harm. we can give huge respect to a self-interested jock who got lucky enough to be born with marketable genes; we attack those spend years training for a job that shapes our kids' lives so fundamentally.

    so before using statistics without an understanding of either the science and math of statistics or the reality of the facts being analyzed, get educated. discussing averages to bluntly demonstrates a lack of understanding, and is embarrassing. or should be.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    "Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in."

    Abraham Lincoln First Political Announcement March 9, 1832

  • beavograd (unverified)


    According to Article 19 A. 6 of your PAT contract "unit members who work two-thirds (2/3) or more shall have a minimum 30 continuopus minutes of duty free lunch. Do you have a special deal for 60 minutes.

    Teachers have already negotiated they only have to work a 7.5 hour day and 190 day work year (and get paid 50,000+ plus 12 months of premimum insurance).

    Blogging during instructional time, working a 7.5 hour day, don't have to attend evening meetings. . .maybe you can understand why taxpayers who have to work at least 8 hours a day, have 2 weeks of vacation a year, and would get fired for spending as much time as you do on the net aren't too excited about paying more money to subsidize this lifetyle.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    This is for the anonymous coward (what would the web be without you!) above:

    I get 60 minutes lunch minus 20 for duty giving me 40 to do what I please, girly.

    See the morning paper?

    The rest of Portland did.

    <h2>Now back to work for you. There's a cleanup on Aisle 5.</h2>

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