On the PPS Board agenda for their 5/24/16 Board meeting is a $500,000 contract with Portland Community College for students at Jefferson to take college courses at the PCC Cascade Campus. The contract is what creates (and continues) the Middle College for Advanced Studies at Jefferson.
First, this contract is for 7/1/2016 to 6/30/2017 and continues an existing program. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying report or analysis of the current or past years. We do not know how well the program has been working. How may courses were taken? What percentages passed? By high school grade of the students?
Second, there are basically two parts to the contract: (a) payment to PCC for student tuition ($203,000) and books ($90,000), and (b) payment to PCC for support services (most of the rest):
PCC charges $97 per credit. $203,000 would buy about 2,093 college credits for Jefferson students (I do not think PPS gets a discount). Online courses, if they are offered to Jefferson students, cost an additional $20 per course (not per credit). In October, 2015, Jefferson had 524 students enrolled. The $203,000 tuition payment could cover about four credits per student (at an average tuition cost of $387 per student). However, the courses are not evenly distributed among the students. Older students probably take more:
Most of the remaining $207,000 ($395 per student) pays for support services. There are two issues here. Why are not some of these support services part of PCC expected support for any of its students? And how do these support services coordinate with the two contracts with Self Enhancement Inc. also serving Jefferson students (One serving 337 students at $3,501 per student, and one serving 100 families at $1,550 per family, see here). In the interest of modelling program costs for increasing graduation rates, a unified cost accounting of the three programs (JHS, PCC, SEI) and data on their effectiveness would be useful.
Third, two asides: (a) PPS apparently does not report the operating costs at Jefferson, as it does for all its other high schools, to the Oregon Department of Education. Why not? (b) Jefferson has a lot of unused classroom space. It is listed (2014-15) as having 76 classrooms for it’s then 493, now 524, students. Cleveland was listed as having 1,516 students in 81 classrooms. So, Jefferson has room for about 1,000 more students. And, if some of those Jefferson students are actually taking classes at PCC, perhaps there is room for even more.
So, why does not Jefferson have more students? And can PPS afford to build excess high school enrollment capacity at Lincoln, Madison, and Benson while classrooms remain empty at Jefferson? Not in my view. There are other facility needs for such funds.