March 2nd, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools, City Hall

Mayor Promises Opinion On High Schools, Just Not Yet

Sam Adams
Mayor Sam Adams met Sunday with a few Grant High School parents who are concerned about Portland Public Schools' high-school redesign.

Technically speaking, the mayor has absolutely no control over Portland Public Schools. (Then again, neither does Bill Gates, and he's managed to exert plenty of influence at Jefferson, Roosevelt, Madison and Marshall High in recent years.)

Two days after the meeting, it's not clear when or how Adams plans to voice his opinion on the school district's proposed changes -- only that he will eventually have one, he says. This afternoon he told WW schools are an important component of the Portland Plan but that he's still in "listening and learning" mode when it comes to the high-school redesign, which could change considerably in the coming weeks anyway.

The only elected officials who can direct Superintendent Carole Smith to do anything are the seven members of the Portland School Board. But city officials have intervened in school matters before. In 2003, then-Mayor Vera Katz helped pitch a local income tax to pay for schools. In 2006, then-Commissioner Erik Sten weighed in on plans to close Rieke Elementary School in Hillsdale. And today the City of Portland continues to contribute funding to the school district by paying for school police and SUN Community Schools.
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