Portland Public Schools is currently developing a bond measure proposal for 2016. Preliminary advice is to rebuild three high schools (Benson, Madison and Lincoln). The PPS Board School Improvement Bond Committee met on 9/21/15 to consider a Board resolution on the future enrollment size of Benson. I submitted the following public comment in opposition to the enrollment capacity proposed. It is similar to an earlier blog post
The current resolution would continue an unfortunate trend of building high school enrollment capacities far more than PPS needs in the foreseeable, able-to-be-planned future. PPS is heading down a road of wasting $100-200 million on unneeded high school capacity (the rough costs of two potentially unneeded high school rebuilds) . That would be $100-200 million that could be better spent on rebuilding other PPS schools (and helping convert back to a system of middle schools).
Public comment to the PPS Board's School Improvement Bond Committee.
by Dave Porter
(1) I speak in opposition to the proposed resolution "Authorizing Benson Campus Full Modernization Building Capacities." Portland Public Schools staff is recommending rebuilding Benson with an enrollment capacity of 1,700. That would be too large and would waste future bond funding that could be better spent on other needed facility up grades. My suggestion is that PPS build Benson with the same enrollment capacities as Roosevelt - that is for 1,350 with its core designed for 1,700. Let us now design a PPS high school system with a student enrollment capacity of 15, 250, still well above the forecast of 13,374 needed in 2028-29.
(2) I am also concerned that PPS staff has present no enrollment forecasts for Alliance or the other district-wide programs that support the enrollment capacities presented.
(3) Resolution recitals F, G, and H:
The draft resolution's three recitals F, G, and H are unsupported fudge factors to encourage overbuilding of PPS high school enrollment capacity. They are not supported by any analysis or data. Long term high school growth may or may not occur. PPS can wait and see, and then build, if needed. And growth in the highest quality, most cost effective, and most economic-growth relevant programs will, and should, take place outside the traditional high school building. They will include expanded community based programs (such as mentors, internships, merit badges, and on-the-job training), more online course offerings (especially those apart from the brick-and-mortar high schools), and paid high school study abroad programs. They will all reduce the need for high school enrollment capacity.
(4) Some history: Recall that the document " PPS, High School System Design: The Superintendent's Revised Action Plan, 9/27/ 2010," (here, page 8) called for a system of high schools sized between 1,100 and 1,450.
In 2013, there was no system-wide analytics showing a need for all schools to have enrollment capacities of 1,700.
(6) The latest enrollment projections used by PPS ( PSU Population Research Center, August, 2014) forecast only out s far as 2028-29 and forecast as the "high growth scenario" high school enrollment of 15,734:
(7) The above enrollment forecasts are for all high school students. In 2014, 84.9% of total PPS high school students were in one of ten general high schools:
(8) Applying 85% in general high schools to the total high schools students estimates for 2028-29 yields forecast for general high school enrollments of 13,374. Ten rebuilt high schools each built to enrollment 1,700 would yield a total system capacity of 17,000, far more than the 13,374 forecast as needed.
(9) I would suggest that PPS adopt the following design enrollment capacities going forward. Those with design capacities of 1,350 should be designed with core capacities for 1,700 and for possible future expansion to 1,700. It would yield a PPS high school enrollment capacity of 15,250 which is still well above the 13,374 forecast for 2028-29.