The neglectful, negligent dithering over where and when to open a Mandarin dual language immersion program in SE Portland needs to end. The DBRAC has an essential obligation to make a recommendation this fall for a program to open fall 2017. They cannot responsibly delay further.
And the DBRAC should recommend that the new Mandarin immersion program open at Harrison Park.
The DBRAC should recommend that the boundary between Vestal and Harrison Park move to the south sifting some Harrison Park students from Harrison Park to Vestal making room at Harrison Park for the Mandarin immersion program.
Almost three years ago (12/3/13), I attended a community meeting at Harrison Park on proposals to expand Mandarin immersion. PPS staff then said (here):
A Mandarin immersion program will not be started in SE Portland until 2015. All the SE schools are now overcrowded. It will take a year to find space and, if needed, to get Kellogg school fixed up and useable. PPS is looking at overcrowding in all of SE and will include a Mandarin immersion expansion (two strands) as part of the plan to alleviate overcrowding in 2015.
The crowd reacted:
Many in the audience had young children and were frustrated, even angry, that it was so difficult to get their children into a Mandarin immersion program. They did not understand why a Mandarin immersion program could not be opened at Harrison Park next year. Or why King might get one next year even though it was too far for them to go. There was outrage over how hard it was to get into Woodstock, with one woman saying “we can’t afford to buy a house in Woodstock. It is too expensive!”
Since then, the PPS Dual Language immersion staff has consistently and repeatedly asked the DBRAC for classroom space to start a new Chinese immersion program in SE Portland. (memo 6/3/16, here).
Harrison Park is the natural location for a Mandarin immersion program. The following is the map of Chinese speaking kindergarteners provided to DBRAC by PPS staff on 6/4/16 (here). The red arrow points to Harrison Park located next to the highest density of Chinese speaking kindergarteners.
Here is the accompanying data:
Some "Chinese" speaking students speak Cantonese. There have been discussion of how to handle this.
Harrison Park is now a K-8 and is full, with a density index in 2015-16 of 19 (20 being very full).
Hopefully, Harrison Park will eventually become a K-5 but may need to wait years as Kellogg is rebuilt to provide a middle school. In the meantime, beginning fall 2017, a Mandarin immersion program can open there (kindergarten and first grade to begin, adding one grade per year) and grow. To do so will require additional classrooms space.
Some additional classroom space can come from shifting some Harrison Park students to Vestal. With the creation of Roseway Heights as a middle school, Vestal will switch from a K-8 to a K-5, creating classroom space at Vestal. Those classrooms should be used to move the Vestal boundary with Harrison Park south.