PPS Pulse March 2017

Interim PPS Superintendent Bob McKean

Greetings and welcome to what I hope is winter’s last gasp. This school year we’ve faced snow, ice, wind and record rainfall. Winter left us missing nine days of school. I, for one, am looking forward to spring.

In order to gain back much of those lost instructional days we have made several calendar adjustments. The final changes were made on March 7 when the Board voted to convert the April 7 planning day into an instructional day, and also to extend the school year by one more day to Thursday, June 15 (this calendar change does not affect graduation dates for seniors).

2017 has proved eventful so far for PPS, below are some of the highlights:

The Oregon Legislature has been meeting in Salem since early February. They are dealing with a projected budget shortfall of nearly $1.7 billion. It’s too early to say exactly what the impact of a deficit this size will have on our schools, but we must be ready to make tough choices. Principals will be reviewing our latest budget scenario over the next two weeks, and it will be presented to the Board on Tuesday, March 14.

We will also be joining other Oregon school districts on Monday, March 13 in Salem to speak with our legislators about how important it is to protect public education funding. The Legislature will hold the first public hearings on the K-12 budget on Thursday, March 16. We encourage PPS families to speak with your local legislators about how important the K-12 budget is for our students and communities.

This process is fluid and depends on state revenue forecasts. After taxes are fully processed—by the end of May—the state will have a clearer revenue picture. We will keep you informed as we develop our budget for the 2017-18 school year based on the best information available to us from the state.

Proposed Health, Safety and Modernization Bond

On February 28, 2017 the Portland Public Schools Board of Education approved a resolution to refer a capital construction bond to Portland voters for the May 2017 ballot. This proposed bond is the second in the series to fully modernize school sites across the district over the next few decades.

If passed, what would the proposed bond do?

The proposed $790 million bond would fund renovations and additions at Benson and Madison High Schools, and full rebuilds of Lincoln High School and Kellogg Middle School.

Approximately 30% of the budgets for these projects comprehensively address health and safety issues, including lead and asbestos abatement, roof repairs, seismic upgrades, and accessibility improvements in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Additionally, if the bond passes, at least $150 million would fund district-wide health and safety projects, including replacing old pipes and fixtures to reduce lead, improve water quality, and reduce the need to use bottled water, and removing or encapsulating exposed lead paint and asbestos.

Graduation rates on the rise

2015-16 just above 75%, surpassing state

Notably, with a 75.46% rate, PPS has slightly surpassed the state’s average four-year graduation rate of 74.83%. Additionally, PPS’ gains have now outpaced the state’s overall gains for four consecutive years.

Nine of our schools earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR rating

PPS students and staff representing: Benson Polytechnic High School, Wilson High School, Cleveland High School, Stephenson Elementary School, Chapman Elementary School, James John Elementary School, Chief Joseph Elementary, Sunnyside Environmental K-8, and Richmond Elementary School

At a ceremony on February 10 at Wilson High School in SW Portland, nine PPS schools were recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for achieving ENERGY STAR certification. To receive this certification, a building must perform in the top 25% of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency, and meet strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA. ENERGY STAR schools use an average of 35% less energy, and also release 35% less carbon dioxide.

97th annual Benson Tech Show

Benson High School students displayed projects they’ve completed through the school’s renowned Career Technical Education (CTE) program. Benson is one of three PPS high schools that would be modernized under a $790 million capital construction Health, Safety and Modernization Bond proposed for the May 2017 ballot.

Kindergarten Open Houses

If you have a student starting Kindergarten next year there are still opportunities to attend open houses.

Lincoln High School’s Mission: Citizen

Mission: Citizen is a nonprofit run by Lincoln High School students that teaches naturalization classes and provides naturalization exam scholarships to hundreds of immigrants annually in the Portland Metro area. Mission: Citizen recently received a $49,970 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board that will fund a tablet-based educational initiative, a Tri-Met advertising campaign for the program and also expand it’s scholarship fund. Lincoln’s nonprofit was one of three selected in the Pacific Northwest to receive such a grant.

Boundary changes approved for Peninsula and Chief Joseph

Map of affected area.

On February 13, 2017 the PPS Board voted unanimously to approve boundary changes to Peninsula and Chief Joseph schools, both feeder schools for Ockley Green Middle School. These changes will help relieve crowding at Chief Joseph and create a more robust enrollment at Peninsula starting in the 2017-18 school year.

Black History Month

Vernon Read-In

April Mears, counselor at Vernon K-8, is committed to ensuring that students of color see themselves in the books they read. As part of Black History Month, she hosted a “Read-In” to celebrate black authors. With assistance from the Vernon Librarian, Jayme Wilkens, and the Multnomah County Library, which supplements Vernon’s library, Mears had 7th graders partner with younger students to read and discuss stories of African Americans.

Madison's Black History celebration

Attendance matters at Lane Middle School

March 1: Lane Middle School students dressed up using the theme “100” as part of their 100th Day of School Celebration. The festivities at Lane are part of the district’s Attendance Matters campaign aiming to improve student achievement through regular attendance.

Oregon Symphony at César Chávez

In January young musicians from César Chávez School’s BRAVO Youth Orchestra got a chance to perform with the Oregon Symphony at the school.

Radon testing update

We are nearly finished with initial radon testing of all occupied ground floor rooms in the district, as described in the PPS 2016/2017 annual radon plan and in accordance with the Oregon Health Authority protocol. A spreadsheet of results can be found on the radon page of the PPS Healthy and Safe Schools web page.

Roosevelt students “Gear Up”, get their hands dirty

Students from Roosevelt High School are experiencing on-the-job training in construction through the PPS Gear Up program where they worked on a local Habitat for Humanity house project.

Thank you Hosford Band, great way to open a board meeting!

The Hosford Band, directed by Scott Johnston, gave a rousing performance prior to the March 7, 2017 Board meeting.
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Photographs by Beth Conyers for Portland Public Schools

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