Friday, January 28, 2011

"Ad Hoc Committee of PPS" will discuss Superintendent's Recommendation Feb.3 at 5:00pm

The Ad-hoc committee of the PPS Board will meet on Thursday, February 3rd at 5:00 pm to discuss the Superintendent's Recommendation for the Alameda-Sabin-Beaumont boundary and program change. This meeting is open to the public; however no public comment will be allowed during the meeting. This is where we can see whether we can expect the Superintendent's Recommendation to be brought to the PPS Board for approval.

The meeting is currently scheduled to meet at the Willamette Conference Room, Blanchard Education Service Center, 501 N. Dixon, Portland OR 97227. Check at the last minute to see if the location has been changed.

If you have not been to this building before, drive westbound on NE Broadway. Turn right at N.Larabee (just before the Broadway Bridge). Turn right at Dixon (the first street). Take the first left into the parking lot of the BESC (Blanchard Education Service Center). Visitor parking spots are immediately on the left.

No boundary change this year says Superintendent Smith's recommendation

By now you may have read the Facebook AlamedaPDX page with information, and the Willamette Week article online, and the Portland Tribune article online (24 minutes ago), that Superintendent Carole Smith recommended that no boundary change will be made this year, but instead several temporary changes would be made to ease crowding at Alameda School and try to boost enrollment at Sabin School. Alameda Students who wish to attend a less crowded school are offered a guaranteed place at Sabin.

Scott Rider, ANA chair, urges neighbors to bear in mind the Superintendent’s recommendation to the School Board means more work ahead for Alameda volunteers and that the teachers, students and their families at Alameda will bear the burden of crowding there.

A school board committee will review the Superintendent’s recommendation at a meeting on Thursday, Feb. 3rd , and the entire school board will vote on the recommendation Feb. 7th. We believe the board is likely to vote in favor of the recommendation, but perhaps we should all wait and see. After all, most observers felt certain the BAC recommendation would be affirmed without question by the Superintendent. The final vote is that of the PPS Board. Then we can plan for the year. Meanwhile a gentle reminder: this was not a sports event, and there really is no “winning side,” only one hard choice instead of another.

A thank you email or letter to the Superintendent would be appropriate if you believe her decision was an appropriate one, and one to the PPS Board if, as expected, they concur.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hello Neighbors,
Many families are feeling uncertainty as they wait for the Portland Public School Board to decide school configurations and any boundary redraws. We respect your right to express satisfaction or discontent with the recommendation of the Boundary Advisory Committee to the PPS Board and Superintendent. We suggest you address your letters and emails to them.
As resolved in our general meeting on January 24th, the ANA has delivered a letter, on behalf of our Neighborhood to the PPS Board and Superintendent, addressing specific items of concern. The ANA is not part of, nor is it supporting, any effort to initiate lawsuits against PPS.
Please remember that Boundary Advisory Committee members are volunteers, not paid elected officials. Please treat them with respect, and honor their family's right to privacy. The ANA does not condone any threats, personal attacks or harassment of any kind for any reason. Thank you for helping keep conversation and messages civil and focused on issues not people.
Scott A. Rider, ANA Chair

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ANA will deliver a letter to PPS Board and Superintendent Smith today

Last night 27 people attended ANA's monthly board meeting. The school issue was the primary discussion. A draft letter from ANA to the PPS Board was examined and everyone had a chance to offer ideas for inclusion. Chair Scott Rider, who also had served as a member of the Boundary Advisory Committee explained the Committee's discussion at Sabin School last Thursday.  A member of the Irvington Community Association board who lives in the Alameda overlap advised that ICA Chair Archer was at this very moment at the PPS Board hearing to present the ICA perspective. Given the timing it was another missed opportunity.

A message from the Superintendent and the PPS Board said they are developing a recommendation that will be finalized in the next few days, and at this point have postponed the community meeting on the 27th while the Superintendent's plan is finalized.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Alameda Neighborhood Chair Scott Rider invites you to Mon. Jan. 23 meeting 7:00 pm

How difficult the past 6 weeks have been for many families! There will continue to be issues and challenges our neighborhood will need to address in the future (further boundary redraws, infill housing, neighborhood cell towers, sustainability, etc).

The Alameda Neighborhood Association needs strong support from it's residents, and the Board and Committees should reflect the socio-economic and geographic diversity that exists within our community, as well as the many different priorities and concerns we share. The ANA invites you to attend our monthly meeting and learn where you can make a difference in improving your neighborhood.

The Board will make time for a discussion on last weeks' BAC meeting and solicit final input on our position letter representing the neighborhood that will be submitted to the PPS School Board this week.

The January 24th meeting (4th Monday of each month) will start at 7:00 pm at Fremont United Methodist Church, 2620 NE Fremont Street 97212. Enter at the corner of Fremont and 26th.  Hope to see you there! 


Friday, January 21, 2011

Boundary Advisory Committee action Thursday night

Scott Rider, a member of the BAC and chair of the Alameda Neighborhood Association, released the following statement Friday morning, January 21, 2011:

The boundary committee met again last night and here is a summary of the suggestions that will be made to the Schools' Superintendent:

A simple majority voted in favor of recommending a slightly modified version of the "Orange" option that was presented at the community forum. Sabin remains a K-8 and continues to house ACCESS. Alameda remains a K-5, and Beaumont remains a M.S. Alameda is the only feeder into Beaumont. Beaumont will increase the number of transfers from across the Grant cluster by around 35 students per year. Students wishing to transfer out of Alameda will have priority. Grandfather clause for Alameda students who are affected by the boundary change that will allow them to attend Beaumont instead of Sabin.

Others on the committee recommended that the PPS Board adopt the "Blue" option, and one committee member recommended holding off on changing anything for the 2011 school year to give more time to review options.

A boundary change will occur. A majority of the committee recommended that the board look at zones B, A, C, O, and E in that order. Several committee members dissented on sections O and E.

All of this information will be posted on the PPS site in the next couple days and there will be another community meeting next week, date to be determined.

Final Meeting of PSS Boundary Advisory Committee Concludes With Votes

The meeting of the PPS Boundary Advisory Committee at Sabin School on Thursday night, Jan. 20th, for all its length, had no surprises. After spending the first two-thirds of the time talking through details of options and plans the BAC had privately considered a day or so ago, ten of the twelve BAC members, with various degrees of reluctance, voted for the so-called “orange” plan with modifications, one voted for the “blue” plan, and one, Alameda representative Scott Rider, declined to vote for either plan on the grounds they were far too rushed for decisions of this scale.

Marshalled to their task by the extremely skilled independent consultant hired (we presume) by the PPS to see the BAC complete their assignment, the BAC members deserve a round of grateful applause for their valiant efforts to do their job. But it was like watching a trial with only a prosecuting attorney serving as judge. It was readily admitted that the statistics used for the demographics were years old, some from the 2000 census, student estimates based on current student enrollment not the number poised to enroll. Undisclosed authorities had declared that some sections on the district provided map of Alameda/Beaumont could not be considered. So the BAC dutifully limited their inquiry to the sections of Alameda (and a piece of Irvington) that were presented for surgery.

Some of the BAC felt more concern for the dicing of the grand old Alameda Neighborhood than others. But all (except one) yielded to the coaching of the consultant who assured them they owed it to the Superintendent to recommend not only one of the two plans, but a basis for cutting a new boundary.

In the final third (plus overtime) of the meeting, the consultant adroitly led the group to consider each of the segments that were helpfully labeled by the district for possible movement to the Sabin School boundary, and to decide the priority the Superintendent should use in determining which segments should be included to obtain the requisite number of students. Much discussion was devoted to deciding where the Tri-Met bus runs through Alameda. Perhaps Tri-Met has information about students-to-be that PPS lacks. The final series of votes were taken by having the BAC members show four fingers if they agreed, three if they agreed reluctantly, two if they had questions, and one finger if they declined to vote. Scott was polite, and it was suggested to him that he voted with the wrong finger.

It was hard to hear which segments were finally chosen for the prioritization, so that information will be posted Friday after consultation with our representative.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Final Boundary Advisory Committee meeting tonight 6pm at Sabin

Neighbors are allowed to hear the BAC (Boundry Advisory Committee) discuss tonight (Thursday, Jan. 20) at Sabin School what they plan to recommend to the Portland Public Schools Board regarding the redrawing of the school boundaries of Alameda and Sabin schools. Observers may not speak.

Sunday's Alameda History program by Doug Decker is full

Alameda Historian Doug Decker will give a presentation Sunday, January 23rd at the Subud Center in Alameda to a full house. There is no more room for people who have not already registered. If you would like to be notified if there is a second opportunity for this popular program, please email, or call him at 503-281-7694.

Monday, January 17, 2011

NECN group considers the Sabin, Alameda, Beaumont boundary proposal

Tonight several Alameda Neighbors and a couple from Irvington joined the group of representatives from most of the other member neighborhood associations at a meeting of the SALT (Safety And Livability Team) of the NECN (Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods). SALT is a new NECN group. On their agenda for the evening was discussion involving Alameda, Sabin and Beaumont schools and PPS proposals that would redraw the school boundary between Sabin and Alameda. The redrawn boundary would have the effect of moving a large chunk of the Alameda Neighborhood, and some of the Irvington Neighborhood into the Sabin school boundary.

Echoing some of the discussion that 50 Alameda neighbors had January 9th in an ANA sponsored for families with preschool children who had received no notice or information about this from PPS, and more of the discussion at Beaumont Middle School on January 17th in the only meeting for community input, the SALT group tonight was incredulous. After many questions and extensive discussion, the group decided to write a letter from the Team to the PPS Board urging that the process be halted and the PPS Board vote set for Feb. 7th be delayed to allow reasonable time for consideration of change of this scale. They plan to ask the NECN board to send the letter also under its own aegis.

As reasons for the delay they will point to the woefully inadequate notice to the community, the lack of adequate representation (e.g., area “C”), and the need to consider a more comprehensive solution.
(I don’t have the exact words they will use.)

We need a clever solution to the overcrowding, not a cleaver one that severs Alameda. The boundary change would take a band-aid solution and stitch it permanently into the wound.

Alameda Neighbors consider PPS proposed boundary issue

Hi! I'm George Ivan Smith, communication chair of the Alameda Neighborhood Association. I created this blog to provide the association another way to communicate more frequently than our quarterly newsletter. I invite comments, feeback, reliable information, corrections, etc.

Currently there is considerable interest in the proposal by PPS to redraw the boundary between Alameda and Sabin schools. Neighbors have expressed their views more than 90 times recently on Facebook page Alameda PDX. After a glacial response by the school district to requests for information, finally statistics, descriptions, and many graphs and charts were posted on the PPS website, and eventually some on the Alameda School website. Meanwhile, ANA used door-to-door fliers to increase the number of neighbors who knew about the proposals.

Some neighbors have set up a website, on which they propose to post information related to the issue.

Tonight, 6:30 to 8:30 the NECN (Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, of which Alameda is a member) has a meeting of their SALT (Safety and Livability Team) at the center, 4815 NE 7th Avenue Portland 97211. Visitors are welcome. The team will hear a report from the Portland Police, a presentation from the Audubon Society on coyotes in NE neighborhoods, and--about 7:30--will consider the Alameda-Sabin-Beaumont schools and boundary issue(s).

For those who Twitter: I have "AlamedaPortland" set up, and hope to have it actively tweeting soon. Expert advice welcome.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A new group of Alameda neighbors seek allies on the Alameda-Sabin schools issue

Newly up:  with email contacts at: and .

Here's what they say for themselves:
We are a group of parents and homeowners who live in the Alameda neighborhood of NE Portland who have been adversely affected by the recent Portland Public Schools proposal to change the Alameda school neighborhood boundary. Most of us have only recently become aware of this plan to gut the core of our historical Alameda neighborhood. Both of the current proposed "options" being pushed by PPS have been derived without any significant neighborhood input. Both of these plans deprive a large number of households in the core of our neighborhood, that have invariably sent their children to the Alameda school for nearly a hundred years, of the opportunity to do so in the future. A large portion of residents in our neighborhood remain unaware of this plan due to the woefully inadequate outreach by Portland Public Schools. This site has been created in an effort to inform our neighbors and to galvanize them into action.  Please come join us, gen involved and make your voice be heard.

Max lives at 3910 NE 28th Ave and Vivek lives at 2743 NE Dunckley St.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meeting at Beaumont regarding schools drew a large attendance

Participants sat at round tables with five other people, distributed among people they didn't already know. When all tables were filled a half-dozen rows of bleachers were also mostly filled. A PowerPoint show walked us all through the agenda, titled "Alameda, Sabin, Beaumont and ACCESS Boundary and Reconfiguration Discussion." Next steps showed as: January 20: Boundary Advisory Committee meeting to develop recommendation for the Superintendent; Week of January 27: Community feedback on recommendation; Week of February 1: Superintendent recommendation to Board Committee; February 7: Board vote scheduled.

Many people complained that they had learned of these developments only in mid to late December during the holiday flurry, or after the beginning of January. Those who have children not yet in school would not have learned about the proposed changes had not the Alameda Neighborhood distributed fliers to those who live in the areas expected to be affected by boundary changes. Neighbors also alerted the newspapers, and The Oregonian and the Portland Tribune ran brief articles. The PPS staff said they had notified families of existing students.

Staff rehearsed the enrollment issues: Alameda has too many students, Beaumont and Sabin too few.
Alameda School K-5 has 779 enrolled (capture rate 88%) with avg class size >30.
Beaumont Middle School has 455 enrolled (capture rate 63% of the neighborhood population of 318) so relies heavily on transfers, currently 75 slots per year.
Sabin School K-8 has 342 enrolled (54 in grades 6-8) of neighborhood population of 484 (136 in grades 6-8) and its capture rate is 74% for kindergarten, 16% for 6th grade, 49% school wide.

The people at tables and on risers were asked to discuss the information provided, then to choose an orange or a blue plan, the only difference being that in one plan Sabin students in grades 6-8 would go to Beaumont. Both plans assumed the school boundary between Sabin and Alameda would be redrawn to send about 150 students to Sabin rather than to Alameda. A BAC member said the boundary change would effect only about 25 students per year due to grandfathering and such,  providing gradual change. After completing discussion of the orange/blue plan, focus shifted to the boundary change. There was no conclusion announced, and none of the ample audience was invited to say anything. Answers to written questions were offered until shortly after 8:00pm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Neighbors prepare for meeting at Beaumont Thurs. 6-8pm

Email threads among the Alameda parents has been extremely heavy. There's still a strong concern that the "orange" and "blue" options are both inadequate. There's also recognition that it's important to participate in the discussions because otherwise the PPS leadership will say they were met by an obstinate group opposed to all change. Several writers pointed out that Sabin is a good school, and that this fuss is not about sending kids to Sabin, but resolving the overcrowding at Alameda. The exchanges also still reflect dismay that the process is grinding along on demographic data that is unreliably stale.

This Blog will, of course, be stale too, by the time anyone can read it, because the ANA did not have its resources up and running to report and comment in a timely way. (Perhaps we should not criticize the PPS too much on this score.)  It seems everyone is hoping the direction all this is heading will be clearer after tonight's meeting. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alameda neighbors take their questions to PPS meetings on school changes

  Over the end-of-the-year holidays, Alameda neighbors suddenly became aware that a process put in action by the Portland Public Schools had been quietly discussing and evaluating options for improving the enrollment balance in Alameda, Sabin and Beaumont schools. Small groups of selected parents and neighborhood representatives were considering information prepared and provided by the school district with a goal of recommending one plan to the PPS Board for a vote in January. The expected result would be a change in the school boundaries. And to residents who have carefully bought homes to allow their children to attend a particular school, boundaries matter. Big time!

Scott Rider, chair of the Alameda Neighborhood Association, was accepted on the Boundary Advisory Committee (BAC), and dove into a deep river of information. The committee reviewed enrollments, facilities, staff, trends, old statistics, stale demographics, maps, school programs, and more. Much more. Scott was disturbed to learn that many of his Alameda neighbors had no knowledge of this long overdue effort to balance school enrollments. Apparently the District had mailed information about this process to families who have children in school, but had in no way attempted to contact the families with children not yet in school. Some suspicious souls thought the failure to communicate with the not-yet-student's families might be a deliberate effort to put into place a new arrangement before they could object. Perhaps the District folks thought the parents would be bored with the stacks of statistics and maps and charts and (yawn) PowerPoint presentations, and perhaps it was purely accidental oversight. But suddenly placid Alameda was on high alert. There was a plan, said the Portland Tribune, to draw a boundary right up Regents Drive and thence north on 29th, and shunt the families on the west side of the new boundary to Sabin school.

Armed with hundreds of fliers advising that enrollment changes might affect the residents, volunteers trooped through the bitter cold to assure that everyone who cared would know there was to be a neighborhood meeting to discuss the whole matter. Some 50 parents and several of the BAC members met on Sunday evening January 9th and Scott led the meeting to assure that everyone had a chance to speak and to get answers to questions.  Repeatedly, BAC members were forced to say they had not been allowed by the process to consider some options, that some things the District declared "not for discussion."

PPS is set to have a public information and discussion meeting at Beaumont Middle School on Thursday evening, January 13. People who attend will be seated at tables of six and allowed to discuss what is presented, and to write questions that may then be presented by the table. We'll find out tomorrow how this turns out. Given the outrage the 50 parents expressed at being told there were options that unnamed officials had declared off limits for discussion, the situation is not warm and fuzzy. Of even greater contention is the single minded drive by some PPS Board members to proceed to a quick decision this month to clear the way for Kindergarten Roundups. They evidently prefer a poor decision with a hostile neighborhood to a delayed decision on the plans. We'll post the results of the meeting here.