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.

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