Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DWBRP and the Hollywood District

This letter has been, or will be sent to the PPS Board, Judy Brennan, Karl Logan, Bob Alexander, Sue Ann Higgins, Jon Isaacs and Carole Smith.  Raymond Saul, the author of this letter, does not have children at BCS but is a concerned neighbor and advocate for the Hollywood Neighborhood.  

January 22, 2014

RE: BCS Overcrowding

Dear Neighbors, PPS Board Members and Administrators:

Residents living within the eastern portions of the Beverly Cleary School (BCS) and Grant H.S. (GHS) districts ( i.e., the area between 47th and 57th Avenues) are concerned that the “short-term” fix for overcrowding at BCS for the 2014-15 school year will prejudice the determination of new permanent boundaries for both BCS and GHS by the District-wide Boundary Review Project (DWBRP). Unfortunately, our concern seems well-founded.

As you know, the DWBRP was launched in November 2013 and is slated to propose new boundaries for all schools for the 2015-16 school year. Judy Brennan, PPS Enrollment & Transfer Director, describes the purpose of the DWBRP is to undertake “a holistic, district-wide approach that intertwines with city and regional planning and goals will best serve our students and Portland as a whole.” (See,

We appreciate that PPS recognizes that delineation of school boundaries should be respectful of neighborhoods and supportive of city planning goals. The DWBRP process is the opportunity to do a comprehensive multi-faceted review of boundaries and facilities throughout the PPS system, with all options on the table. The ad hoc remedy for overcoming crowding next year at BCS should not be permitted short cut and subvert the DWBRP process.

To our dismay, PPS has indicated that the short-term BCS fix and long term plans for PPS buildings and boundaries will likely be linked.

For example, PPS has proposed four criteria for evaluating the 2014-15 BCS overcrowding relief options. One of the four states “Align resources needed for temporary change with long-term directions.” Though vaguely worded, it states that the choice of a short-term fix will not be independent of long-range planning considerations, and instead will try to anticipate the long term solutions to be proposed by DWBRP. (See,

In addition, Judy Brennan honorably and honestly admitted at the Jan. 16th BCS Community Meeting that “short-term boundary changes have a tendency to become permanent boundary changes.”
In fairness to the whole community, PPS should commit to allow the DWBRP to go forward without permitting the short-term fix for BCS to influence the determination of 1) permanent boundary changes for BCS and/or GHS, and/or 2) which buildings will be reactivated for permanent use. To accomplish this, PPS should discard the aforementioned selection criteria that attempts to link long term planning changes with the ad hoc short term solution for BCS overcrowding next year.

Similarly, to avoid prejudicing the DWBRP determinations, PPS should commit to discard any short-term plan for any “temporary” boundary changes at BCS next year.

Creating a temporary third BCS campus is likely the best short-term solution for overcrowding at BCS. However, we suggest that the best location for the third campus is Normandale Elementary School, not Rose City Park (RCP) School. Normandale is a single-story building similar to Hollyrood located adjacent to Frazer Park at NE 52nd and NE Pacific, five blocks south of Halsey.

Normandale is closer to the other BCS campuses and, unlike RCP, Normandale is within the GHS district. Normandale Elementary is currently used by Albina Head Start. Presumably, PPS has the right to terminate the lease when necessary to accommodate PPS enrollment. (Alternatively, perhaps Head Start is not using the whole building.)

Temporarily sending BCS students to RCP, which is within the Madison H.S. district, is likely to influence long term boundary changes for BCS and GHS. Therefore, ad hoc use of RCP by BCS students should be avoided, if possible.

Re-opening Normandale should be part of any long term plan to reduce overcrowding at either Laurelhurst School or Beverly Cleary. Similarly, if Roseway Heights School has an overcrowding problem, then the long term solution should be reactivation of the Charles Rice Elementary School, NE 64th and Tillamook, another single-story, Hollyrood-like building, not RCP.

We would suggest that the best future use of the RCP building is to create an eastside K-12 Metropolitan Learning Center (MLC). (See, This opportunity should be considered during the DWBRP process.

The existing well-regarded MLC is located in Northwest Portland. For more than 35 years it has provided an alternative experiential learning environment for a limited number of students. Creating a MLC-east at the RCP location would accomplish the following:
  1. Provide an alternative instructional environment that is convenient for east side families.
  2. Provide an alternative to the “large high school” experience currently available to east side families.
  3. Provide additional area capacity for grades K-12, thereby reducing enrollment at BCS and GHS on a voluntary basis.
  4. Provide GHS families a local high school alternative to the prospect of re-locating students to Marshall H.S. during the reconstruction of GHS (2017-2019).

As stated previously, the purpose of the DWBRP is to take “a holistic, district-wide approach that intertwines with city and regional planning and goals will best serve our students and Portland as a whole.” Therefore, the DWBRP should endeavor to avoid splitting the greater Hollywood District – a designated town center – into two high school districts.

With the possible exception of the area within the Sabin School District, the present Grant H.S. district boundary accurately delineates the “20-minute walking distance” that defines the Hollywood Town Center area. (See,

The eastern portion of the BCS/GHS district (47th to 57th Avenues) is closer in distance to Grant H.S. than Madison H.S.; and is fully integrated into the social and business life of the Hollywood District.

No ad-hoc solution for overcrowding at BCS next year should be permitted to influence or attempt to anticipate the final boundary changes that DWBRP will propose. That determination process has just begun.

Raymond Saul
Suzanne Briggs
2324 NE 56
th Avenue 
Portland, OR 97213 
raymondwsaul (at) 

No comments:

Post a Comment