One month after introducing her first proposal
for reforming Portland Public Schools'
high schools, Superintendent Carole Smith
offered a new, slightly different plan.
The biggest change to Smith's high-school redesign,
presented at a work session with the School Board on Wednesday night, concerns Benson Polytechnic High.
Under Smith's previous proposal, Benson was to become a two-year technical program for 800 11th and 12th graders (who would attend career classes at Benson only half-time).
Under the revised plan Smith released Wednesday, Benson would be a four-year focus school. But it would offer space for only 400 students. Also, the school would offer only one career "strand," such as health-care. Benson currently boasts multiple career strands with diverse classes in fields that include health care, construction, automotive repair and communications, among others.
The trade-off under the new plan of a smaller focus school at Benson would be that the remaining eight community comprehensive schools in PPS could offer additional career strands, Smith says. And even though students would be limited in their ability to transfer to different neighborhood schools full-time under her plan, they would be able to take classes in different career strands at different campuses, Smith says in her latest proposal.
Marshall High School
would still be the site of a new, undefined focus-option school, despite protests from members of the Marshall community who want a comprehensive high school in outer Southeast Portland. The district says it will work with the overcrowded David Douglas School District to figure out possible shared uses for the Marshall campus. But that's just talk at this point.
Here's the kicker: Smith also proposed tonight that neither Benson nor Marshall accept freshman in the fall, which would mean (if the board says OK) that new elements of the high-school redesign would be set in motion one year before what was supposed to have been a September 2011 launch. Even amid the uncertainty, Benson had this spring enrolled at least 150 freshman for next year.
Smith's plan, which we'll cover in more detail tomorrow, also shifts some feeder patterns.