September 27th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

High-School Redesign Part 3: PPS Moves to Shutter Marshall High

Superintendent Carole Smith

Superintendent Carole Smith unveiled the broad outlines of her latest high-school redesign this evening.

Unlike the previous two iterations of the plan--the one Smith first introduced in April and the one a majority of the Portland School Board supported in June--this version calls for shuttering Marshall High School in Southeast Portland entirely. Both the superintendent and the board previously supported the idea of converting Marshall into a 400-pupil "focus school," similar to a magnet school.

Both Jefferson and Benson high schools would remain open as four-year schools, under the superintendent's latest proposal. However, both would be "focus schools." That would not be new for Benson, which currently has no neighborhood boundaries. PPS students who want to attend Benson for its career training must apply for spots.

Jefferson, however, would offer a different "focus" model. Under Smith's new plan, students in the Jefferson neighborhood of North Portland could enroll automatically at Jefferson or one of three other schools, Roosevelt, Madison or Grant, depending on where they live. The superintendent calls this "dual citizenship."

Cleveland, Franklin, Grant, Lincoln, Madison, Roosevelt and Wilson high schools would remain comprehensive high schools. The Harriet Tubman Young Women's Academy, now technically a part of Jefferson High School, would cease to offer ninth through 12th grades and would instead offer only sixth through eighth grades.

Last spring, Portland Public Schools tried to interest members of the David Douglas School Board in sharing Marshall. The cash-strapped district declined the offer.

This latest plan is the result of a decision last June by the Portland School Board to table discussion of the high-school redesign, now three years in the making, amid vociferous protests from supporters of Jefferson, Benson and Marshall. Among the three, Marshall supporters mustered the least vocal campaign.

A vote is scheduled at the board's Oct. 12 meeting. If approved then, the plan would roll out in fall 2011.
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