PPS Pulse December 2016

Happy Holidays

Bob McKean, Interim Superintendent

I want to wish all students, families, teachers, and staff a very happy and safe holiday season. I hope everyone has an opportunity to spend time with family, friends and loved ones and to return to school in January excited and ready to resume the great learning and exploration taking place throughout the district.

The severe weather the past two weeks was challenging for our community, and I appreciate the patience of families and the hard work of staff to ensure the safety of our students as we navigated what was an enormously difficult series of weather events. Safety is our priority in these circumstances, and we will continue to communicate with you throughout the winter during threats of inclement weather so you can plan with as much advanced notice and information as possible.

There is a lot of inspiring work happening across the district that doesn’t always make the news. We’ve included several stories here, including the 30th anniversary/grand re-opening of the health clinic at Roosevelt High School, an update of the 2012 School Building Improvement Bond, and great achievements by our students and staff alike.

I am particularly impressed by the generosity and sense of community service displayed by students' and parents through various holiday food, gift and clothing drives and remain inspired by the quality of education our students are receiving - as well as our students drive and curiosity.

Again, I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday break and I am looking forward to a full and exciting time of opportunity for PPS in 2017.

Dec. 8, 2016: Enjoying a snow day at Chapman Elementary School.

Weather closures

As we saw over the past week, inclement weather can have a massive effect on PPS. We had challenges getting our students home on time last week largely due to the gridlock in the metro area. Although there were significant delays, all of our students on buses arrived home safely. Many students were picked up late by their parents/guardians who themselves were stuck in traffic. As you know, weather and traffic conditions affected the entire region. We're thankful to parents for their patience and to our dedicated staff for supervising students while they waited for pick-up.

We may see more problematic weather in the coming months. We want you to know that decisions to close or delay school are not made lightly. Some of the factors we consider include: safety of transporting our students via buses, sidewalk accessibility for those on foot, maintaining instructional hours and child care challenges for parents including parents’ ability to meet buses if there is an early release. Our primary goal is always the safety of students and staff.

We will be evaluating additional communications tools that we can implement in the future, as well as discussing other coordination with city and state transportation departments so we can better factor in traffic and road concerns as we make these decisions.

Last day of school is now June 13, 2017

Due to inclement weather on December 8 and 9, the PPS Board of Directors voted at their December 13 board meeting to add two days to the end of the school year. The last day of school is now June 13, 2017. View a PDF of the 2016-17 calendar here. The impact of the snow days on December 15 and 16 will be reviewed in January.

Roosevelt health clinic: Re-opening on 30th anniversary

Daniel Malone, Roosevelt Vice Principal greets former principal George Galati, Dec. 5, 2016

Roosevelt Principal, Filip Hristic

Image above courtesy of the Oregonian.

In the image to the right: George Galati brandishes a stack of phone complaint slips he received when the clinic first opened 30 years ago.

Roosevelt student Freddy Meija speaking at the grand re-opening ceremony.

Roosevelt High School’s school-based health clinic celebrated its 30th anniversary December 5 with the grand opening of its new facility at the modernized school building, a part of the 2012 School Improvement Bond.

When the clinic originally opened in 1986, some in the community worried that it might promote sexual behavior among teens. Thirty years later, the clinic has become an important resource in the Roosevelt community, providing routine exams, mental health, age-appropriate reproductive health assistance and many other services.

In collaboration with staff, students and their families the center has helped create an environment that allows kids to stay healthy and thrive.

Forest Park and Duniway assist needy families

Duniway and Forest Park schools have a long tradition of rallying their communities to donate food and gifts to other PPS families in need. This year, Duniway’s Community Giving Project sponsored 18 families who received boxes of food, including a turkey and three gifts for each child. At Forest Park students and parents filled 150 boxes of food that will go to local families at Scott, Vestal, and Whitman schools.

2012 Bond update

Franklin's new grandstands with press box and bleacher seating

Roosevelt's new 500 seat theater getting a few finishing touches


Kevin Spellman, chair of the Citizens Bond Accountability Committee (BAC), from a recent School Board meeting.

Franklin's new Gym / Biomedical / Culinary / Arts Building is nearing completion

Rendering courtesy of DAG Architects.

This year has been the most eventful of the 8-year, $482 million 2012 PPS School Building Improvement Bond Program. In addition to seven summer improvement projects, construction is fully operational on the modernization of Franklin High School, and the rebuilding of Faubion PK-8. And in August, the first new complete buildings opened at Roosevelt High School with the additional new spaces slated to open in January 2017. By the start of the 2017-18 school year a fully modernized Franklin, Roosevelt and rebuilt Faubion will open to students and staff. Additionally, next school year, construction will begin on the modernization of Grant High School, which will be completed by the fall of 2019.

Next School Building Improvement Bond

PPS Staff are currently assessing our schools’ health & safety needs to inform a draft 2017 bond package that will include critical health & safety improvements and plans for additional modernized high schools. This upcoming bond is part of a long-range plan to modernize and improve all of our schools over the next 20 years, and will address issues like seismic safety and water quality. Our facilities’ needs are extensive and community feedback on this bond package will shape the priorities of the next round of investments. The 2017 bond will require us to unite and invest in the schools our students and community deserve. Help us keep building our future together.

Take the Successful Schools Survey

PPS invites all families to share their experience in our schools through the Successful Schools Survey, which runs through Jan. 17. The Successful Schools Survey is a chance to get the voices of thousands of families at once and provide results that will be shared with the community and school staff.

The survey is available to all PPS parents/guardians of students in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian and Somali. The survey is on line at www.pps.net/sucessfulschools and hard copies are available in your school office.

PPS PTA Student Clothes Closet

The Portland Council PTA’s Clothing Center at Marshall High School Campus has been busy this year. More than 900 students have used the resource this fall. Just last week, several businesses have donated more coats and many local high school students are volunteering at the center. For more information on how to donate to the PTA Clothing Center at Marshall, contact Sharon Meigh-Chang at ptaclothingcenter@comcast.net or call 503-939-4847.

George School wins state soccer championship

Way to go team! Left in back: Ed Rosario, Center: Wendi Watson, Right in blue shirt: Alan Van de Water and Kristin Klee in the background with two students.

On Saturday, November 12, the George Middle School Unified Soccer Team, which includes both general education students and special education students, won the Gold Medal in their division in the Special Olympics Oregon State Fall Games Championship at Providence Park in Portland.

George Middle School Unified Sports is part of a program sponsored by the Special Olympics called Unified Champion Schools, which promotes social inclusion through sport. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

“From the beginning, our partners and athletes understood that unified sports is so much more than the game. It's about working together, helping each person to be his or her best, and being a friend.”

Annie Simpson, who co-coaches the team and also teaches speech at George Middle School. Annie shares coaching duties with Wendi Watson, a special education teacher.

The Portland Timbers hosted this event, and invited players to the sky boxes where they had dinner and then a dance hosted by the Timbers and Special Olympics Oregon.

Free preschool pilot program at Faubion

United Way co-leads the Early Learning Hub at Faubion in conjunction with Early Learning Multnomah.

The Preschool Promise, created in 2015 to support families living at 200 percent of the poverty level, will allow 1,300 low-income students statewide to become more successful in kindergarten. As part of the program Faubion Elementary School @ Tubman, houses one of ten preschool programs in Multnomah County. The program’s goal is to improve educational outcomes for low-income students starting at 4 years old. For more information, or to fill out an application, visit the Faubion website.

PPS also offers summer programs that support early learning for students and parents. Read an in-depth OPB article on the Kindergarten Summer Program here.

4th annual Children’s Book Harvest a success

From October 3 through November 10, PPS joined in partnership with the Children’s Book Bank on the 4th annual Children's Book Harvest to gather more than 19,000 donated books. In all, 41 schools participated. Special thanks goes to the PPS Transportation Department: Bus drivers picked up boxes of books from schools and delivered them to the Book Harvest’s headquarters for processing.

This effort is part of Portland Public School's Read Together initiative, which seeks to ensure that all students are reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. To do this, The Children's Book Bank has partnered with Portland Public Schools to ask the community to donate 30,000 new or gently-used children's books this fall. The books will be cleaned, sorted, and delivered to students before summer break at schools specially selected by PPS.

Oregon School Librarian of the Year

Grant High School’s Paige Battle, Teacher-Librarian of the Year

Grant High School’s Paige Battle was honored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries as the 2016 Teacher-Librarian of the Year. Paige is highly regarded among the district’s library staff, and a go-to person for new PPS librarians who are looking for ways to best serve their students.

This is the second time Paige has been recognized for her outstanding abilities. She also won the Washington State Library Media Association’s Teacher-Librarian of the Year award the year before coming to Grant.

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PPS Communications


Roosevelt clinic photographs courtesy of Kate Wilson, Multnomah County.

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