A Unified Message from Westside Schools to DBRAC and PPS Board

DBRAC Public Hearing at Portland Public Schools Headquarters January 14th, 2016

FROM: Ainsworth, Bridlemile, Chapman, and Rieke Elementary Schools 
Rosie Platt ­ Chapman PTA President and Parent
Sahana Misra ­ Bridlemile Parent
Justin Norman ­ Rieke Parent
Sarah Schubert ­ Ainsworth PTA President and Parent

TO: District­wide Boundary Review Advisory Committee

Portland Public Schools
Ms. Carole Smith, Superintendent 

Portland Public School Board
Mr. Tom Koehler (Chair)
Ms. Amy Kohnstamm (Vice Chair)
Ms. Julie Esparza Brown, EdD
Mr. Paul Anthony
Mr. Steve Buel
Ms. Pam Knowles
Mr. Mike Rosen
Ms. Katie Davidson

Mr. John Isaacs, Chief of Communications & Public Affairs
Ms. Janine Partovi, Bridlemile PTA President and Parent
Ms. Holly Ingram, Rieke PTA President and Parent

(Chapman PTA President and Parent, Rosie Platt)

Hello again. My name is Rosie Platt and I'm the PTA president at Chapman elementary school. First of all, I wanted to thank you all for the time and effort you have put into this process.  As Chapman's catchment is the epicenter of overcrowding on the Westside, I wanted to commend your efforts to reduce the student population at our school. The latest proposal would put us at a right­sized school for the first time in years. Chapman staff and community are breathing a sigh of relief at this prospect.

However, I stand here, united with the other westside schools that are being affected by this proposal, because of the ripple effect of reducing Chapman’s population. Obviously, not everyone is going to be happy with the changes and we all are going to have to deal with the reality that our beloved city is changing and growing.

With a large portion of the Chapman catchment proposed to shift to Ainsworth it instantly shifts our overpopulation burden to Ainsworth, bringing them to a population of 625 students, already above the right sized number for their building. PPS projects that by 2020 Ainsworth will have grown to an overcrowded level of 667 students, for a building fit for 550. Chapman on the other hand, for the first time in years will be at a functioning level and right sized! However, similar to Ainsworth, we are expected to exceed the right sized number in just four years. Nobody wants a short­term fix to a very acute issue of major growth in our city center, resulting in shuffling around the overpopulation, leading to new problems for many from transportation issues to loss of walkability and safety to loss of preservation of communities.

Unified with the other westside schools, we ask you to truly address the root of the problem, that we need additional space or a new school in the inner Westside that can absorb the growth and provide a buffer towards future growth.

(Bridlemile Parent, Sahana Misra) 

Thank you members of DBRAC and PPS staff for this opportunity to share our feedback regarding the newly proposed Westside model. My name is Sahana Custer, and I have a daughter at West Sylvan and a son at Bridlemile. In the most recent map released, my family lives in the affected area South of Hamilton that will be moved from Bridlemile to Hayhurst.

We appreciate DBRAC’s response to our split­ feeder concerns and we acknowledge the time and effort it has taken on the part of PPS staff and DBRAC members to come up with a new model. This new model, however, raises several concerns. I will briefly review the two most important concerns, which we will elaborate more on in future meetings.

First, the new model unintentionally moves out a substantial proportion of our lower income families. In this model, 56.7% of our families meeting poverty levels would be shifted out of Bridlemile decreasing our poverty level from 7.4% to 3.2%, placing us second lowest in the West Quadrant. In this model, no other school in the West Quadrant would be relocating such a substantial percentage of low­income families out of their catchment. Our most recent count has identified 41 multi­family complexes/apartment communities that would be impacted. As a Bridlemile community, we embrace our diversity and we pride ourselves in taking care of one another. We want to ensure that PPS and DBRAC are well informed of how changes may impact these families, and that you are making safety and overall well­being a top priority for them.

Second, our understanding is that one of the goals of this proposed model is to mitigate overcrowding concerns at Hayhurst Elementary. The PPS enrollment data indicates that this model would move 222 children out of Hayhurst and move 227 children from Rieke and Bridlemile into Hayhurst. This puts the same number of students, if not more, into Hayhurst. While potentially efficient now, forecasts indicate future growth for this neighborhood. This seems like a short term solution that might force students to change schools AGAIN within a few years.

In closing, we look forward to partnering with you and friends from our neighboring schools in the coming days to address these concerns together. Thank you for your time and attention. 

(Rieke Parent, Justin Norman)

The new proposal does not support walkable neighborhoods for any of the affected communities.

Hillsdale residents have the unique ability to walk to all three schools. Currently, the route from most houses in Hillsdale to Rieke is through low volume roads, neighborhood trails and sidewalks. Furthermore, the crossing at Beaverton Hillsdale Highway is used by children from Wilson and Rieke and is a known school crossing.

 Alternatively, the route to Hayhurst is at least one mile longer along a very circuitous route that cuts through a wooded park that could be unsafe for children. Children would need to cross two very dangerous roads; Dosch Rd. and Beaverton­Hillsdale Highway then climb a steep hill to Hayhurst. Children simply would not walk or ride bikes.

The incoming children from Council Crest and Healy Heights would not be able to walk to Rieke because of the steep hill and long route.  The children from Bridlemile, who currently walk, would not be able to walk to Hayhurst for the same reasons. These families will likely drive to school, which will increase traffic on neighborhood streets and create a larger problem at the Sunset Blvd / Beaverton Hillsdale Highway Intersection that is already quite bad. 

The new boundaries create a scenario where children who can walk to school are replaced with children who will drive to school, which results in increased traffic on neighborhood streets and worsens an already failing intersection. These impacts contradict many Portland policies, goals and objectives, including Safe Routes to Schools, PPS Administrative Directive 1.10.049­AD, the DBRAC guiding principles, and the City of Portland Climate Action Plan that outlines ambitious way to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 through better walkable neighborhoods.

(Ainsworth PTA President and Parent, Sarah Schubert)

Hello, I am Sarah Schubert, the Ainsworth PTA President. We are proud to join the other West Side schools in coming together to strongly voice our opposition to the latest DBRAC plans. I think you have seen that the entire Portland community is engaged and eager to help DBRAC/PPS craft a balanced proposal that addresses our overcrowding issues.  As we all know, Portland is a destination city and the growth will only continue. And as such we need to strategically plan for this growth, not temporarily address the problem. Moving around certain groups of students at multiple schools and disrupting their ability to walk to school and be part of their neighborhood community is not in the interests of anyone and is counter to the goals of DBRAC.

We strongly believe in stepping back and allowing our communities a little more time for comment and to absorb these latest proposals. We recognize all the hard work that the Committee has done, and we recognize the need for expediency as the needs are immediate. We realize that re­opening shuttered schools such or installing temporary portables are costly, however we feel that our need for additional space is great and this must be proposed prior to recommending mass disruption of so many families.

We hope and trust our unified front has made an impression on The Committee tonight. We officially request that The Committee discontinues its consideration of Proposal III, and we respectfully request The Committee to grant us the time that it takes for us to continue to come together and deliver the right solution for all of our children and families at our Westside Schools.

Thank you.