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

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