• Board tackles ACCESS, boundaries at middle school work session

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     Photo-montage of community meetings.

    The district has conducted multiple meetings to hear community feedback on the middle school feeder pattern proposal.

    Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero pledged Monday to work in collaboration with ACCESS Academy leaders to find a solution that continues to provide educational services to the unique needs of students “that ACCESS excels at supporting.”

    “It’s important to recognize that there may be particular students who may not be served well” in their traditional neighborhood school, Guerrero said during a PPS Board work session on middle schools. “I get it.”

    He said the Board’s direction to open two new middle schools at Harriet Tubman and Roseway Heights has caused a dilemma for ACCESS. The plan calls for reconfiguring the current home of ACCESS – Rose City Park – to a neighborhood school. That means ACCESS would need to relocate.

    Guerrero is scheduled to meet with the ACCESS community this evening to hear its members’ concerns and ideas. “Then we’ll begin to brainstorm possibilities,” he said.

    The discussion was part of a board session to work through proposed feeder schools and boundary changes that are necessary for opening the two middle schools. A vote on the feeder patterns has been scheduled for Oct. 24.

    Board members asked PPS staff to run enrollment projections based on a scenario in which the only boundary changes would be ones relieving Beverly Cleary K-8 so that it can go from a three-campus school to a two-campus school.

    Board members ran through a list of changes to the original middle school proposal including:

    • High school assignments for 5th through 8th graders in affected areas.
    • Updated school assignments for current Beverly Cleary students.
    • Withdrawal of a proposed boundary shift from Alameda to Sabin.
    • Withdrawal of the proposed relocation of ACCESS Academy to Humboldt.
    • Withdrawal of the proposed relocation of Kairos PDX from Humboldt to a new site.

    Board members also questioned staff on a number of outstanding issues, including how to support new K-5 schools that would be considered under-enrolled. PPS Deputy CEO Yousef Awwad said the plan is to boost staffing at those schools to the level they could expect if they were fully enrolled.

    “We need to do everything we can to support these schools,” Awwad said. “That’s our commitment.”

    Board members also raised questions about why Vernon K-8 was not included in the middle school plan. Staff responded that the most likely middle school to accept grades 6-8 students from Vernon would be Beaumont – but the school needs work before it can accommodate additional students.