Portland students fight to keep schools open

Portland students fight to keep schools open

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by Mike Benner

Bio | Email | Follow: @MikeBennerKGW

kgw.com

Posted on April 13, 2012 at 8:02 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 13 at 8:29 AM

PORTLAND -- Dismissal time at Humboldt Elementary School and like she does everyday Krystall Waller picks up her two kids and she does so with a smile on her face.

"It's a pretty close community," said Waller.  "It's pretty important to me because the kids all know each other, they grow up together, they learn together."

They may be learning with a lot more kids come next year. The school district is over budget. To save money the superintendent is pushing to close Humboldt and consolidate it with Boise-Eliot.

"I don't know what their programs are like, what their achievements are like, so that's a concern," said Waller.

It is a concern shared by her kids, but for different reasons.

Superintendent Carole Smith is recommending cutting 110 teaching jobs and more than 30 positions at the central office to save $27.5 million. Her budget cuts include closure of  the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women and the merger of Humboldt and Boise-Eliot schools.

More: Portland may lay off 110 teachers

A final decision from the school board is expected on May 14.

"I'm about to go into seventh grade and I want to go here," said Jeremiah Waller.

"I like this school," added Alianna  Waller.

So do the several hundred people who packed Humboldt's gymnasium Thursday night.  It was an effort to persuade the superintendent to change her mind.

"Humboldt has made sure we brought our grades up, brought the benchmarks up," said one parent.

It turns out the Humboldt community is not alone.  The Young Women's Leadership Academy at Harriet Tubman is also in danger of closing.  It brought one little girl to tears.

"I've seen girls who can't focus in big classrooms and that's why Harriet Tubman is a special place for girls like that," the youngster said.

Emotions are running high, but as Waller demonstrates, an open mind can go a long way.

"As long as the changes are positive, and it helps everyone, and everyone thrives with it, I'm okay with the changes."

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