Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Supporting Documentation as of 9/2/14

#1 - 
An Assessment by PSU's Center for Public Service of PPS’s Organizational Readiness and Options for Citizen Engagement 



Memorandum - Current status of Enrollment & Transfer policy & school boundary review process.


Date: August 28, 2014

To: Portland Council PTA, PPS PTA Leaders & Parent Advocates

From: Jon Isaacs, Chief of Communications & Public Affairs 
            Judy Brennan, Enrollment & Transfer Director

Subject: Current status of Enrollment & Transfer policy & school boundary review process.

In spring of 2013, the PPS Board of Directors directed the Superintendent to implement a review of both enrollment & transfer policy and school boundaries as part of resolution they approved following Jefferson Cluster enrollment balancing. Specifically, the board directed the Superintendent to:

Develop and recommend a process for a comprehensive review of school boundaries district wide and policies related to student assignment and transfer to better align with the Racial Educational Equity Policy and promote strong capture rates and academic programs at every grade level.

In order to meet these to directives the Superintendent and PPS staff took two actions-

1. Engaged the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Enrollment and Transfer (SACET) to review student assignment and transfer policies align with the Racial Educational Equity Policy.

2. Partnered with the PSU Center for Public Service and their team of experts who assist public agencies with taking on tough public policy challenges. The PSU team has been asked to assess PPS’ readiness to take on a district wide boundary review process, assist PPS with setting clear values, goals and issues, and recommend a process for a district wide review of school boundaries.

Work on Enrollment & Transfer and Boundary Review to Date
On June 2nd The PSU team delivered their first report to the PPS Board, which is attached for your reference and review. In this readiness assessment, which included interviews with over 20 community stakeholder organizations, the PSU Center for Public Service team recommended internal alignment phase to address several important but unanswered questions about the purpose and scope of a district-wide boundary review process. The report offered several options for conducting a process that could begin in the fall and would address long-term and short-term boundary issues. However, the report acknowledged that selecting the best process would depend in part on the outcome of the internal alignment phase. Additionally, on June 2nd, SACET delivered their first extensive report to the board including their first set of preliminary recommendations. The SACET report is also attached for your reference and review.

Since June 2nd, the PSU team has been working with all of PPS leadership on questions related to district-wide boundary review. They have heard, and continue to hear from board members, senior PPS staff, school administrators and educators l about the following questions:

1. What should the primary purpose of district wide boundary review be?

2. As you know, once we begin a conversation about boundary review, other inter-related issues start to come up. Do you have strong preferences about things that should, or should not, be included in district wide boundary review? (Moving or changing programs? School reconfigurations? Etc.?)
3. At what specific points in the process should you as a Board play a formal role in district- wide boundary review?

You can watch the July 7 alignment discussion the PSU team facilitated with the PSU Board of Directors here:

SACET has spent the summer doing listening sessions with historically underserved communities and looking at modeling to prepare their final recommendations. SACET also participate in a work session with the PSU team about boundary review and how it intersects with enrollment & transfer policies.

What comes next?
The PSU assessment team is now completing this work and will report back to the Superintendent in late September on the outcomes of their summer alignment work and make a recommendation for the process PPS should use to accomplish a district wide review of school boundaries. SACET will be delivering its final recommendations to the Superintendent for changes to enrollment & transfer policies in October. You can track SACET meetings on their website - http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/enrollment-transfer/6531.htm

At that time, The PPS staff will also make recommendations to the Superintendent and Board on urgent enrollment issues that need to be addressed by the 2015-16 school year.

If you have any questions about boundary or enrollment & transfer review or would like to meet with the staff to ask questions directly about this contact Jon Isaacs in the Community Involvement & Public Affairs office at jisaacs@pps.net or Judy Brennan, Enrollment & Transfer Director at jbrennan@pps.net

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Grant Cluster DWBR Meeting Min

Grant Cluster DWBR Meeting

May 27, 2014, 6:15 – 8:00

Grant HS Cafeteria

Opening: Heather Leek, BC PTA President and Rep to Grant Cluster.

Roster/roll-call.  Larry Bingham from PPS.  Parents from all over the cluster.  Approx. 110 total.  Otto Schell and Scott Overton from the Portland Council of the PTA.

Heather walked through power point, timeline, etc.  Boundary discussions are about all students and all clusters.  PTA isn’t offering an opinion, just making sure that information is communicated.  Cautioned parents not to use their school’s name (representing their school) during advocacy unless they have buy-in from large number of other parents through a survey or other broad and inclusive methods.

Scott Overton from PTA discussed the broader district wide boundary review process, as opposed to piecemeal approach.  Target sizes, but this process doesn’t affect program sizes.  This is about gathering information from parents and creating community awareness and involvement.

Heather: we’re seeing growth that was totally unforeseen.  For example, the Beverly Cleary School has seen an average of almost 11% growth per year for the past five years.  This has created severe overcrowding and has resulted in the school being on three campuses for the 2014-15 school year.

Parent Comments: 
  • Want to know what PPS is going to do. 
  • Doesn’t believe PPS will take our input, or don’t believe parents have any “real” input.  
  • This process is happening so fast that families don’t have a chance to plan (13-15 months), 
    • housing choice, 
    • sibling rights
    • transfer rights, etc.  
  • Lack of trust toward PPS, Superintendent and Board.  
  • Programs shift and thus capacity needs shift.  
  • Is it a top-down decision by PPS (high schools trickling down to K-8’s, etc)?  
  • PPS knows how hard this is and thus should come to us for input; otherwise it’s a waste of our time.  
  • This is our opportunity to complain and speak up, so PPS doesn’t just jam something on us.

Heather: It’s about what we hope to see, what we’re afraid of and how we can help the direct PPS when it comes to Grant Cluster.

Small Group Notes / Comments:  
  • Infrastructure issue
  • Changing boundaries doesn’t make any difference if we don’t have anywhere to put them.  
  • Should re-open closed schools or expand existing schools, or else it’s pointless.  
  • PPS has a history of proposing a policy, then community pushes-back, and then they change policy tact.  
  • It all comes back to basic infrastructure; there aren’t many more mothballed schools that could re-open, so with all this NE infill that’s coming, the existing buildings are going to have to expand.  
  • Increased capacity is the only way. 

What do we hope to see?  
  • Evidence that we need to increase capacity and that just moving boundaries won’t do it.  
  • Would like to see class sizes come down; not just accept high ratios.  
  • Would like to use this as a case to state leaders about why we need broad statewide financial overhaul.  
  • Want to see transparency in the process.

Judy Brennan: polled group as to what they felt was the appropriate time frame for planning purposes – anything beyond five years is really tough.

Gave a demographic overview:  PPS declined from 1997-2003. Under-18 population in the PPS boundary shrank.  Coupled with seismic shift in funding for schools.  Growth is happening in lower grades; high schools were getting smaller, though.  Growth swing is hard to predict, namely because PPS is already built-out – more of a behavior change by families.  People are staying in their “starter homes” longer.  Not necessarily more kids being born.

Q&A with Judy: Will focus on forecasting, sometimes decisions have to be temporary to true-up capacity between schools (Fernwood-to-Rose City, for instance), thousands of “seats” of capacity across PPS have gone offline since the 1970s.  Capacity and space vary from program-to-program.  No specific plan to move kids from one school (overcrowded) to another (less crowded).  Forecasting will be important, but kept to a narrow band because history has shown that forecasting has been inconsistent.  Make a decision and stick to it so we can get on with our lives.  K-8 reconfiguration was done due to culture and bad test scores.  Flexibility – reason to believe these boundaries are permanent.  But boundaries are one of the last things we do – “Right to Remain” and sibling grandfathering are examples of flexibility we may need to see.  Tension between making right decision and making it quickly enough.  Expectations about population forecast next week:  in order to resolve it, it may limit amount of public input.  Timeline about next steps is unclear. 

Meeting adjourned 8:05 pm

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Few Good Men and Women Needed. Please Volunteer.

Items with an * require help this school year as well as the 2014-15 school year.
Key Position
Brief Description
Importance to BCS
Passport Club
Bring geography to BCS!  Passport has been a long standing nationally support PTA effort to enhance the geography in our schools.  We will need to look at the current program and evaluate how we can create an interesting experience at 2 campuses (2nd-8th grade program).  This is a year-round program that will need several hours of support per month.
Great opportunity to teach geography, which is not included in basic curriculum.
Spook A Rama
Lead/support effort for BCS Fall Halloween carnival and fundraiser.  This effort is requires several hours per week leading up to the event and significant work the night of the event.
Raises about $6500 annually
Rummage Sale *
Lead spring rummage sale fund raiser.  School rummage sale in April.  Requires a few hours leading up to the event, with a huge effort Thursday-Saturday the weekend of the event.
Raises about $5000 annually
Volunteer Coordinators
We need 3-5 individuals to help solicit volunteers for various PTA events (such as those listed here).  Requires year-round effort.  This role solicits volunteers versus a large amount of leading various efforts.  Ideally we need at least one person on each campus.
Critical role in support volunteer efforts at BCS. 
Casino Night / Misc Fundraiser
The PTA would like to begin another fundraiser during the year.  This position will look at various options of events and make a proposal to PTA, as well as lead effort, or find volunteers to support event.

Run For The Arts *
Two to three individuals work with the national program to administer the event.  Hours are spent on preparing for the event and post-event tracking and collecting of donations.  Volunteers are also needed to help count laps, tally donation sheets, hand out T-shirts and awards and, best of all, share time with students as they run laps at the Grant High School track.
This event raises money for art programs, assemblies, artist in residence programs and the like at Beverly Cleary School. 

Other Lead Volunteer Roles

Work with middle grade students to develop the product (including photography and written content), submit to photography company for production, help with collecting orders and distribution
Green Team
Volunteers will help campuses implement Green School environmental principles, including Earth Day activities.
Art Cards (or other items)
Collect student art work that will be transformed into cards/items that the student’s family can purchase.  This event was not completed in 2013/2014 due to lack of volunteer support.
Clothing Closet
Clothing Closet provides needy families of PPS children a place to “shop” for donated, gently-used clothing.  Volunteers from PPS schools staff the PTA Clothing Closet, located at Marshall HS, on specific dates throughout the year.
Chess Club
This is a volunteer-run club for children grades K through 8.  You don’t have to know how to play, just be willing to learn.  Chess is a fun and very popular activity for the kids as well as a great learning tool
Teacher Appreciation Week
This position is to guide the school through teacher appreciation week.  You will help coordinate and communicate a lunch for the teachers, a coffee day, cards from the kids, a sweet treat….or?  It’s up to you if you take the lead. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Letter to the Community from Teri about 2014-15

Dear Families,

The past several months have been a time of great challenge for our community, our school and our families.  Change has truly been the only constant, and through it all, we have collaborated respectfully and productively with the school district staff and each other to address the specific needs of our school.  I am proud of the way we have addressed the needs of our entire community rather than allowing ourselves to be individually focused and thus divided. Our united front is respected and admired by many across the district.  I am writing today because now that we know how we will be structured next year, it will take even more patience, time, focus and faith in each other to ensure the successful and historic transition to a three-campus school. 

Many of you have raised questions and concerns about this transition.  I can sense the angst that the impending changes have caused for both our families as well as our staff.  Thank you for your patience, as well as your thoughtful comments.  Now that we are past snow days and a potential work stoppage, It’s important that you understand how the decision to move 1st and 3rd grades was derived, what decisions will be made when and how, and how you can ensure your voice is heard. 

BCS at Rose City Park
Moving children from their current buildings to a new facility is, by its nature, disruptive and uncertain for students, families and staff.  The catalyst for this entire process is the need to free up classroom space – especially for K-2 students, who are limited by city regulations to ground-level floors – at both Hollyrood and Fernwood.  As you have heard me say many times before, we are blessed to be one of the most popular schools in the district and continue to grow at nearly 10 percent each year. It is impossible for us to accommodate new students next year within our existing K-2 classrooms; therefore, we must move one of those grades to a third campus.  Judy Brennan’s comment in the community meeting about “K-1 being the least likely” to move was in reference to those grades both being moved from BCH, not that they would be spared a move at all.  One of those grade levels had to move. 

Although we originally looked at all grades as prospective "movers" it became apparent that the middle school grades were not a realistic option because:
  • ·      Moving these grades would not relieve pressure on “ground level” classrooms;
  • ·      Moving these grades would eliminate daily interaction for students in our Life Skills Classroom (which is part of our middle school) as RCP is not ADA accessible;  
  • ·      Many parents from all grade levels asked us to consider the fact that 5th-8th grade students will have several moves as a result of the Grant remodel. 

Given these constraints, we had limited options. 

It’s all about the math. For the 2014-15 school year we anticipate needing 15 classrooms for our K-2 grades (5 per grade).  Hollyrood has 7 available classrooms that meet code (plus a lunchroom), Fernwood has 8, and Rose City Park has 7. Because of the lack appropriate rooms at these facilities and the large grade sizes we expect across the board, we couldn’t house more than a single grade from K-2 at any one building.  In addition, I made the decision not to split 1st grade because it would negatively impact the success we have generated with existing shared programs. Finally, when we looked at moving 1st grade to Fernwood, the staff was concerned that the children would be uncomfortable if 2nd and 3rd grade were moved and the next class age in the building was 4th grade.

The Decision-Making Process
Immediately after PPS announced its decision to expand BCS, I met with teachers and staff to begin framing our decision-making process concerning which grades to move.  At the same time, I was approached by three parents who, in response to Judy Brennan’s stated commitment to involve parents in this discussion, asked to be included.  Together with a representative group of teachers, I met with these parents – as well as a few others I approached with children in multiple grades to ensure we had representation from each one – to discuss the grade question.  The parent representatives were there mostly to make sure we did not missing something that may seem obvious and important to a parent.  Their timely feedback was extremely helpful to me as I considered my decision. They agreed that the priorities addressed and the direction that the teachers and administration were moving was the right one.

The most important factor in the decision is to ensure the plan for 2014-15 is comprehensive and does not impede learning or a positive school experience for all of our BCS kids.  Therefore, the concerns and input of the teachers weighed most heavily in conversations about our plans. Through many conversations and shuffling of numbers, the first and third grades became the best choice for our whole community.

Yesterday, Lisa, Melissa and I met with our Regional Administrator, Karl Logan and David Wood, administrator at ACCESS. As you might imagine, there are literally hundreds of decisions that must be made in extremely short order. It’s important to understand that this is a fast-moving process and given the amount of coordination involved, many decisions will need to be made quickly.  Although this is new territory for PPS, our community and me personally, I believe my 30+ years of experience has prepared me well for this challenge.  While community input has been extremely important, the pace of these decisions precludes me from having the same level of parental involvement that we have enjoyed on other major issues. That said, I want to give you a quick update about where we are on some of the key decisions:

·      Transportation: one of our first priorities in working with the District is to craft a bus plan.  This is closely tied to start/dismissal times.  Many of you have asked us to consider staggered start/dismissal times in order to make it easier for families who will have students on two or more of our campuses and we have conveyed that to the District.  The multi-campus scenario has the transportation team in overdrive working on a viable solution that works for our families.  Some of our youngest students will be riding the buses and their safety and security come first. In addition, we want to honor the strong community bonds that are reinforced during drop-off and pick-up times. We are mindful that the transportation piece must fit that core value.  Teri Brady, the Director of Student Transportation, is working with us to come up with some routing options. 

·      Open House at RCP: In response to several of your requests, we look forward to hosting an open house at RCP for all BCS parents. From what we have seen, it is a great facility and our community is lucky to have that space available.  The gym, the cafeteria and the vast outdoor spaces will be a welcome addition for our students, especially our 1st graders who have been without these amenities.  We are working with the ACCESS team to find an open-house time that works for both of our communities.

·      Budget and staffing: Many conversations will be needed with ACCESS leadership and the District to determine what programs can be complementary to one another, which can run in tandem, and which can be combined.  When it comes to staff and administrative positions, support staff, “specials” (i.e. music, library, art, reading specialists, etc.), the situation gets very convoluted.  We are working diligently to utilize our resources and create feasible solutions that best suit our students and teachers. Conversations with PPS have centered around providing some additional staff to give our kids, teachers and administration at all locations proper support and resources.  I am confident the District will make every effort to ensure the success of our programs. 

Next steps
Decisions going forward are very complex.  They will involve another program and will need to be made quickly.  We are making history. PPS has never run a school with three campuses so we are mapping new pathways.  It is important to keep the decision making group small and on task.  I will be meeting with administration and PPS for most decisions.  When needed, I will get input from our teachers and staff.  If there are other questions or logistics I may meet with the existing parent group again if need be. 

·      Parent input: I look forward to the March 11, 2014, PTA meeting as an opportunity to next share updates with the community.  In the meantime, if you have specific questions or concerns, you can email me or write them down and put them in the white box in the main hall BCF or the pink box in the office at BCH. I will address these issues communally, not individually, as that would make it very difficult to manage my day-to-day responsibilities.  I have also asked Heather Leek, BCS PTA President, and Kieren Porter, BCS Foundation Chair, to serve as additional points of contact for the parent community.  They will ensure your comments and concerns are shared with me and the decision-making team in a timely manner. 

·      Boundary discussions: It is our fervent hope that this three-campus model is indeed a one-year solution.  The District Wide Boundary Review (DWBR) involves the City, Metro, the Mayor's Office, the City's Planning Office, PSU and PPS. If you are concerned that this will be a longer "solution" and that the boundary issue will be postponed, I encourage you to write to Judy Brennan’s team in the Enrollment and Transfer Office at enrollment-office@pps.net and urge them to keep moving forward in their boundary review and implementation.  They continue to tell us that they are on track with the set time line for implementation in the fall of 2015. 

I know these are frustrating and uncertain times. I trust this letter has addressed many of your concerns and questions, although there will undoubtedly be more. As a former student of this school and a lifelong resident of this neighborhood, I am deeply committed to making this transition a success and will lead this community through the District process of finding a permanent solution to our overcrowding.  I have been an administrator for many years and have seen major changes in programs, teaching methods and school structure, but I have never seen a school grow at the pace at which BCS has grown.   Our school went from approximately 450 to 830 students in 6 years. That is unprecedented and has pressed us to these extreme measures. In spite of this, I am nothing short of confident that BCS will continue to be a school envied by many.

With gratitude for your support, patience and trust -

Teri Geist