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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 07 June 2006

Parents, students and school officials will continue discussing school closures and changes during another series of community conversations already under way this month.

In early May, the Portland School Board approved proposals to create 19 kindergarten-through-eighth grade schools, to phase out five middle-school programs and to close four or five school buildings.

The school board also agreed to ask the community  about how to balance or increase enrollment in some schools and how to improve student achievement in St. Johns and outer Southeast Portland.

Some communities have already begun meeting. If more time is needed, conversations will resume in late August and September. Simultaneously, conversations will be held with staff members at each school.

Participating in the meetings will be a three-member team from each school in that conversation, composed of the PTA president, Site Council chairperson and a member at-large selected by the principal and the other two team members.
Each conversation also will have one neighborhood representative, appointed by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Some school board members will attend each meeting.

All meetings are open to the public; however, only the team members may speak.

The school board's charge for each community planning effort and the date, time and location for each conversation is detailed below and on the PPS Web site: www.pps.k12.or.us/depts/communications/reconfig/.

The meetings are being conducted in these areas of Portland:

• North, George: Goals: Improve educational performance at North Portland's George Middle School and Sitton and James John elementary schools. The proposal could include reconfiguration.

The only meeting scheduled so far was held on Tuesday, June 6.

• Northeast, Fernwood Elementary School: Goals: Reassign the part of Rose City Park attendance area west of 57th Avenue to elementary, middle or kindergarten through-eighth-grade schools that feed into Grant High School. Those students now are assigned to Rose City Park and Gregory Heights Middle School, but unlike most of their schoolmates, they are assigned to Grant, not Madison High School. The conversation will include these schools: Hollyrood, Fernwood, Beaumont Middle School and Alameda Elementary School.

A meeting is planned from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 8, in Beaumont Middle School, 4043 N.E. Fremont St. A second meeting will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 22, also at Beaumont Middle School.

• Southeast, Sellwood: Goals: Improve student achievement, consider reconfiguration options and close one school building among six: Sellwood Middle School; the surrounding elementary schools — Duniway, Grout, Lewis and Llewellyn; and the Winterhaven kindergarten-through-eighth-grade focus option school.

Another meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, in Sellwood Middle School Big Gym, 8300 S.E. 15th Ave.

• Southeast, Lane Middle School: Goals: Improve student achievement at Lane Middle School and its elementary schools: Kelly, Whitman and Woodmere. This could include reconfiguration, but no building closure.

A meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, in the Lane Middle School Café.

• Southeast, Binnsmead: Goals: Provide for a separate location for the Creative Science School and a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade structure in the Binnsmead Middle School building.

A meeting is planned from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, in the Binnsmead Middle School Library, 2225 S.E. 87th Ave.
A second meeting will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, in the Binnsmead Middle School Library.

Meetings also are being held independent of the community conversations at Rieke Elementary School, where efforts are under way to drive up enrollment by drawing students back to the school from private schools and other options.

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