co-chairwoman of the Portland School Board, said at a board meeting this afternoon that she didn't support Superintendent Carole Smith's proposal for reforming Portland's high schools
and instead favors a huge change for Jefferson High School.
The superintendent's plan calls for shrinking Benson Polytechnic High's student population from 1,000 to 400 and reinventing the three "small schools" on the Marshall High campus with 747 students as a single "focus school" (also with 400 students).
Instead of Smith's proposal, Sargent said she would support a plan that also made Jefferson High School a focus school instead of a comprehensive neighborhood school as Smith wants.
Board Member Pam Knowles didn't attend this afternoon's meeting. But Sargent told the rest of the seven-person board that Knowles agrees with her, as does a third board member, Bobbie Regan. To make Jefferson a focus school, the board would have to go through the formal process of closing Jefferson as a neighborhood school first. Currently Jefferson has about 400 students -- or about as many students as Smith wants at the focus program at both Benson and Marshall.
Last month, Martín González, a board member representing North Portland, proposed moving
Benson's career programs to Jefferson High's campus. But the district has already dismissed that idea.
The School Board is supposed to vote on the high-school redesign two weeks from today on June 21. But it doesn't appear there is a majority of four votes for the superintendent's current proposal.
Illustration of Superintendent Carole Smith by Jonathan Hill.