The text below is ALNA's position on the Superintendent's recommendation to the PPS School Board regarding Chief Joseph and Ockley Green schools. Maybe see some of your neighbors at the public hearing at Jefferson High School Cafeteria today from 10am-noon, or on Monday evening at the School Board meeting!
Dear Superintendent Smith and Members of the Board:
Arbor Lodge contains campuses for two thriving school communities: Chief Joseph and Ockley Green. As
representatives of the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood, we are compelled to
comment on Superintendent Smith’s recommendations for the Jefferson
Cluster. We have held meetings with our board, our neighbors, and most
recently, hosted an open forum with over 40 Ockley Green and Chief
Joseph parents and community members to discuss the future of our
neighborhood schools. After months of engaging our community, we are
deeply concerned at direction the school board is poised to take in
and northeast Portland have a sordid history with the Portland Public
School system shuffling and restructuring schools all too often. In
addition to a quality education, schools should provide a stable
community for students. Gutting Ockley Green’s magnet and special
education programs as well as eventual closure of Chief Joseph do just
the opposite. Among the most affected by these changes are those that
rely on school busing and students with special needs – in short,
disadvantaged students who rely on school to develop their resilience.
the demographics of our neighborhood are changing, and the number of
families with school age children and children on the way are growing.
Recent census data show that while there has been a drop in K-8 students
in Arbor Lodge, there has been a 28.8% increase in adults ages 25 – 34,
which strongly suggests a coming increase in school-age children. We
urge in the strongest possible terms that the School Board not close
the campus of either Ockley Green or Chief Joseph schools.
We need a viable, livable and equitable solution for the future that
takes into account coming changes in student population. The school
board has already indicated that in three years, they will be
reevaluating their transfer policy and enrollment across the district,
meaning that these students and communities could be very soon disrupted
the recently released background report for the upcoming Portland Plan,
schools are identified as “central to community vitality, neighborhood
identity and the well-being of all Portlanders.” (p. 8) The Plan also
recognizes public schools as “multifunctional neighborhood anchors to
serve local residents of all generations.”(p. 40) When families invest
in a school, they also invest in local businesses, homes, parks and
playgrounds. Families build ties as they volunteer in the neighborhood
and as their children walk, bike and carpool together to school.
Neighbors of all generations utilize SUN School programming at these
campuses. These ties create a community destined to be more safe and
resilient in the face of all kinds of challenges. We care deeply about
the communities that are formed around these schools, as shown through
our support of the new “Harper’s Playground,” a fully accessible
playground adjacent to Chief Joseph, strengthening the school as a hub
in our neighborhood. Superintendent Smith’s recommendation for the
Jefferson Cluster threatens to cut our neighborhood anchors and scatter
families to the wind, jeopardizing our neighborhood ecosystem.
schools are the heart of our neighborhood. Shutting the doors to either
continues a sad history plaguing our community for decades. We demand
that Portland Public Schools put a stop to hasty closures until they can
develop viable, equitable long-term solutions. Now is the time to
change history and prove to the citizens of north and northeast Portland
that instead of expecting to continually feel the brunt of budget cuts,
we will see that burden shared equitably district-wide.
Katy Asher, Chair
on behalf of the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Association Board of Directors:
Ginger Edwards, Gavin Hamilton, Steph Lanning, AlexSandra, Katie Chastain,
Brian Edelschick, Bob Meehan, Sharon Parker and Nate Young