School Busing Concerns

Regarding your article on Portland Public Schools busing West Hills kids to North Portland ["Over the River," WW, Dec. 23, 2015], you ignored the main Skyline K-8 community concerns: safety, district cost and academics.

The facts: Skyline's attendance boundary covers 64 square miles (source: PPS). The average Skyline middle schooler's commute is a half-hour. The past commute to West Sylvan Middle School was one hour. The travel time to George Middle School in St. Johns would be similar to that of West Sylvan. George has only a 55 percent capture rate in its own neighborhood. Adding Skyline's middle school reduces George's low socioeconomic population by just 5 percent, to 50 percent overall. The federal Title I threshold is 40 percent.

Safety: Busing to George requires most students to cross the Willamette River, with Northwest Germantown Road and the St. Johns Bridge the probable routes. In just three weeks since district modeling, the bridge and/or Germantown have been closed 10 times during peak travel, including more than once for 24-plus hours. No plan has been outlined in the case of closings, not to mention the family stress incurred.

Cost: Busing 100 Skyline students to West Sylvan cost the district $275,000 (source: PPS, 2011). Busing students to George in 2016 would cost more. Couldn't George be improved with more than $275,000?

Academics: Skyline K-5 will suffer. With only 200 students, it's not a full building. It's also unlikely the district could fund its "core programs." As a full K-8 building, the school operates efficiently, and resources can be shared.

—101 Skyline K-8 community members

Ranchers and Federal Land

The ranchers' complaints all boil down to a single thing: not getting unfettered access to federal land ["All Hat, No Cattle," WW, Jan. 6, 2016]. Much of it has to do with water access, because if you lose access to water in a desert, your livestock, and your livelihood, are toast.

Federal law does provide for water rights for cattle on federal land. The problem is when these ranchers think they don't have to follow the law, and they often ignore the courts and take matters into their own hands.

It's a repeating pattern all over the West, and one that won't stop until people like the Hammonds are held accountable for their actions and have to abide by court decisions just like everyone else.


Candidate's Troubled Past

Darin Campbell's background of questionable judgment calls and actions goes far, far beyond that of 99 percent of the population—even those who have struggled with substance abuse and/or mental illness ["Running With History," WW, Jan. 6, 2016]


Bowie's Portland Moment

David Bowie told a story at his final Portland show [in 2004 at the Rose Garden's Theater of the Clouds] about how he was by then-Civic Stadium in a car the first time he ever heard himself on American radio ["A Brief History of David Bowie in Portland,", Jan. 11, 2016].

He said he rolled down the window and shouted, "I'm on the radio right now!" to which a passerby yelled back, "Shut the fuck up!" Then Bowie played the song he had heard [that day in the early 1970s]. It was "The Man Who Sold the World."

—Matt Ashley

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