PORTLAND -- How do you decide which Portland high school should close and which should stay open? How do you decide what's best for the future of 11,000 students? Monday night, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith set out to define the goals by which to measure success.
On the table is a plan to re-design the district's high school system. Decreasing enrollment has, in Smith's opinion, left the district with too many high schools for too few students. After months of analysis and community comment events, Smith determined that the best path for the district was a series of comprehensive community high schools, smaller focus schools and additional eduction options.
In moving to this system, it's believed several high schools will be closed in the 2011 school year. But which ones, no one knows.
Many parents district-wide have come together over the last several months to voice their support for their neighborhood high school and to learn what their future may hold. Monday night they were heard, but given few answers.
"I don't see that the system's broken, so I'm wondering why they're taking all this time and energy and spending all these dollars to fix something that isn't broken," said parent Lisa Brumm.
"I'd like to see the details of it because I think that would either help calm people down or else get people in affected schools, it would give them the ability to start planning and responding," added parent Bill Jemison.
While some parents have been demanding immediately to know the future of their local school, others have been asking for the process to slow down. In the middle is Superintendent Smith who said she created five principles she'd like to guide the high school re-design process.
"To increase graduation rates, to close the achievement gap, to inspire and engage all of our students, to ensure that all schools are in high demand and to ensure all students are prepared for success at the next level," Smith explained to school board members.
Before Smith can use these principles as a foundation for high school re-design, she'll need the board's approval. But she was careful to point out, a yes on establishing goals does not equal a yes on a final outcome.
"This resolution asks for endorsement of our direction, but does not predetermine our destination," said Smith.
The board will vote on Smith's proposal March 8th.