The school board has been getting a lot of criticism over the proposed closure of the Marshall campus in outer Southeast, which would leave only a small magnet school at that location. Now they want to do the same with North Portland's Jefferson High School. Lents residents have been asking Portland Public Schools to consider giving Marshall to the overachieving David Douglas school district instead.
Lents resident Nick Christensen, head of the Lents Neighborhood Association, sent this letter to the Portland school board:
School board members:
I am writing to again urge you to reconsider your plan to close John Marshall High School. My neighborhood, Lents, has worked so hard on developing a sense of identity and on fostering economic vitality through education. Sending students at least 30 minutes each way on buses to central Portland will be a significant hurdle to eastside redevelopment and to the goal of creating 20 minute neighborhoods.
Also, I would call your attention to a PPS report showing minority enrollment in the city's attendance zone. I think it's quite clear that a move to shutter Jefferson or Marshall would be met with civil rights questions at the U.S. Department of Education.
You've heard plenty of testimony on this by now, so I won't take too much more of your time. So I ask again — change the boundary over to DDSD, keep us open with fewer students from PPS, but don't derail the civic redevelopment in my neighborhood.
Last time the Mercury checked in with Portland Schools Superintendent Carole Smith, she said that the district is dedicated to keeping Marshall.
Update 1:09 pm: Christensen provided a map (after the jump!) that shows high concentrations of nonwhite populations in the Marshall and Jefferson attendance areas. If the schools are closed, these students would travel to schools in other, white (oranger?) neighborhoods.
Also, Christensen notes that he sent the letter as a private citizen, not a representative of his neighborhood. Headline changed accordingly.