January 8th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

Portland School Board Member Questions Proposed Ban on Transfers

PPS School Board

A member of the Portland School Board is questioning a key assumption undergirding Superintendent Carole Smith's proposed redesign of Portland Public Schools' high schools.

That assumption? That PPS should ban the long-standing practice of allowing students to transfer from their own neighborhood high school to a different high school outside their neighborhood.

That practice is one element of Portland's liberal "school choice" policy that essentially lets parents and kids vote for high schools with their feet.

Under the new proposal, the idea would be to limit school choice (by curbing neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers) in order to prevent the kinds of enrollment declines at some campuses that have severely limited what those schools can offer their students. Jefferson High School, for example, has fewer than 400 students compared with Lincoln High's 1,400. (In Portland Public Schools, funding follows the student.)

Bobbie Regan, a school board member from the Lincoln High School cluster, reminded other board members and PPS staff at a work session Thursday night on the high-school reforms that the board has not yet endorsed the idea of ending neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers. That suggests Regan could move to strike down the idea.

Despite 18 months of process, the board won't make any decisions about the superintendent's proposed model until at least Feb. 8 or Feb. 22, when the board is expected to consider not which high schools to close but how many high schools to close.

Photo from PPS's Jan. 7 work session at the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women.
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