Starting in Fall 2023, many Montavilla schools will shift enrollment criteria as part of the SE Enrollment & Program Balancing intuitive. The approved plan adjusts school attendance boundaries, relocates language immersion programs, and redefines grade levels served at each location. Although potentially disruptive, these changes intend to create predictable enrollment within these schools and better serve a changing community demographic. Vestal is the only neighborhood School unaffected by these changes.
On May 24th, the Portland Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the Deputy Superintendent’s recommendations. That proposal resulted from a multi-year planning process by the Southeast Guiding Coalition and community members. Harrison Park will convert to a middle school at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year, and its Kindergarten through 5th Grade students will move into the Clark campus on SE 92nd Avenue, which currently houses Creative Science School. The Harrison Park Chinese Immersion program will also relocate to Clark for younger students. Children will feed into Harrison Park Middle School from Vestal and Atkinson attendance areas.
PPS will relocate the Creative Science School from the Clark campus to Bridger at 7910 SE Market Street. Those students will join the neighborhood program at the school, creating an additional curriculum strand and helping stabilize enrollment. The Spanish Immersion program currently at Bridger will relocate to Lent Elementary School at 5105 SE 97th Avenue. Bridger staff created a Powerpoint presentation outlining the expected adjustments to the school and providing greater context to why these changes were necessary.
PPS staff will send parents information about the rebalancing in early June. Over the next year, a detailed migration plan will provide a roadmap to the new school boundaries and school options. PPS will work to accommodate families during the transition. In some cases, allowing families already enrolled to choose when to transition to a new school. Parents and guardians should receive information about options and what these changes mean for their students within the coming months.
This week, Portland Public Schools (PPS) released an Invitation to Bid for Harrison Park’s conversion into a Middle School. Staff submitted building Permit applications for updates to the 70-year-old education facility. Work will change interior and exterior elements of the property as it removes features constructed during its elementary school past.
Outside the school building at 2225 SE 87th Avenue, PPS plans to construct a new freestanding trash enclosure and a covered bike parking shelter. Improvements to the front entrance include new landscaping and possible hardscape changes. Other exterior work will replace sidewalks and driveways around the property.
Inside the soon-to-be Middle School, crews will perform minor demolition while remaking the school’s main entry and office area. The updates to the Cafeteria will better accommodate the older student’s needs during their mealtime. Workers will refresh ceilings, flooring, plumbing, and electrical systems throughout the facility. In a separate permit application, PPS proposes to update the school’s heating and AC ventilation systems. Restrooms will become more ADA compliant, and some bathroom facilities will convert to single-user gender-neutral spaces. Crews will create a dance studio by installing a wood floor, sound system, mirrors and replacing the partition system with a permanent wall.
This renovation work accommodates phase 2 of the current Enrollment & Program Balancing efforts within PPS’s southeast schools. In the current plans, Harrison Park will convert from a K-8 school to a middle school, and its Kindergarten through 5th Grade students will move into the Clark campus on SE 92nd Avenue, which currently houses Creative Science School.
Contractors will perform these building upgrades without closing the school for additional days, making for a tight summer construction timeline. School staff prepared a comprehensive list of planned updates occurring during the multi-phase renovation project. Look for exterior work to begin when City staff approve permits and increased activity at the site during the summer months.
New curb ramps and pedestrian crossing improvements are planned near Harrison Park School. Funding from the Safe Routes to School project will bring a marked crosswalk and new ADA ramps to SE 87th Ave and Lincoln Street. Multiple curb ramps are coming to the sidewalk bordering the school, providing accessible access onto the school grounds. Initially planned for 2020, this project will begin soon, with traffic control devices already onsite.
Portland Public Schools (PPS) has one year to redraw school boundaries across Southeast Portland. With a new middle school opening and the depreciation of k-8 schools in the district, the countdown to student reorganization is underway. This month, PPS released the first draft proposal for grade configuration changes, boundary adjustments, and program movement.
Under the proposed plans, Harrison Park will convert from teaching K-8 to only accommodating grades 6-8. Students entering grades 6-8 will remain at the school. Harrison Park’s attendance zone will expand into Bridger and Vestal areas, accepting students moving up from those schools. K-5 students at Harrison Park will transfer to Bridger and Vestal. Grade 6-8 students from Bridger and Vestal will move to Harrison Park.
Additionally, Bridger students living north of Woodward Street will now feed into Madison High School if the plan remains as proposed. Many other dual-language based classes will also move around to other schools. However, all these changes are still in the planning phase. The proposal is currently up for discussion and changes.
The Southeast Guiding Coalition Meetings are still underway and will not complete phase one until December 17th of this year. PPS has set up a Google form to solicit comments regarding the proposed changes. That is just one way to provide feedback about their plan to balance student enrollment and programs across the district. PPS has made efforts to be transparent about the process, providing resource materials and videos of the meetings. On October 29th at 6 PM, the Coalition will hold an Open House to interact with the public regarding this process.
Changes regarding school assignments are always complicated and could be challenging as students get back to the classroom from distance learning. These changes are necessary to make way for work that is already in progress and adapt to modifications to k-8 schools. Hopefully, community involvement will lead to positive results as this process continues.
Discloser: The author has a child attending a Portland Public School
Harrison Park School is coming to the end of an usual school year. School construction projects often wait for the summer months and in that way, this year is no different. The building, located at 2225 SE 87th Ave, has a few projects planned for it this season.
Application 20-148819 outlines the work needed at the school. Most of the work centers around a reroof of the entire building. To support safe work, they will need to install new ladders and fall protection devices. On the roof there will be new guardrails and access hatches added to the rooftop. General ceiling electrical work will be performed during that time as well.
Inside the school building, some bathrooms will be remodeled. They also will install new stairway guardrails for the mezzanine.
Although the repairs are not overly exciting, they are a welcomed part of keeping our schools productive. Whenever the Kindergarten through eighth grade students return, they should have a better school to comeback to.
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