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Summary Meeting Notes: October 15, 2012 Education and Youth Success PEG

October 15, 2012 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Attendees: Paul Cathcart, Lois Cohen, Karen Fischer Gray, Will Fuller, Gabriel Graff, Diana Hall, Douglas Hardy, Mary Richardson, Stacey Triplett, Lilly Windle, Helen Ying 

Staff / Facilitator: Deborah Stein, Bob Glascock, Christina Scarzello, Uma Krishnan, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability;Clark Worth, Barney & Worth

View the original agenda, including materials, for this meeting.

Welcome and Introductions
Presenter: Clark Worth
Summary: Self-introductions 

  • Review of September 17 meeting highlights: After a recap of the group exercise, PEG members said they would like to hear more about how Portland’s development and design standards affect schools.
  • Overview of today’s meeting

Data and Trends that Affect Schools and School Districts
Presenters: Deborah Stein and Uma Krishnan, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Summary: Deborah Stein and Uma Krishnan presented an overview of Portland’s demographics (population trends) and how those trends affect schools.

Portland has approximately 584,000 residents in 95 neighborhoods, within a metropolitan area of 2.3 million. The metro population is concentrated within the UGB. Portland’s population is still concentrated along streetcar lines which have been gone since the 1950s.

The areas of the city annexed more recently (1980s) have different infrastructure and populations than neighborhoods west of I-205.

Highlights of Portland’s population:

  • Growing; increasing faster in non-white groups
  • Younger than theU.S.average, with a higher percentage in the 20-44 age group
  • Slightly more diverse than theU.S.average; much more diverse thanOregon.  Diversity Index—55Portland, 52US, 38Oregon
  • Significant income disparity with median incomes of black and Hispanic households only half to two-thirds of white / Asian households
  • Half of Portlanders’ total incomes are earned by one-fifth of the families
  • Earnings and educational attainment are strongly correlated

Demographic trends that affect schools:

  • East Portland populations trend younger, and the schools there are more diverse.
  • In general,Portland school districts continue to maintain a high “capture rate” (compared with other major cities). A great majority (80%+) of school children in Portland still attend public schools.
  • Growing numbers of students in poverty and over 100 languages spoken strain school district resources and make it hard for school districts to provide the variety of services their diverse students deserve

Questions from PEG members:

  • Why is Riverdale School District so different from Portland’s other schools and districts?
  • Isn’t “free and reduced lunch” eligibility a more informative gauge of poverty than that shown in the PowerPoint presentation? This metric is used by school districts and reveals far greater numbers of students experiencing poverty. (Staff response: yes, this data will be added to the PowerPoint that will be posted on the website.)

Review Draft Policies Related to Schools
Presenter: Deborah Stein, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Summary: Deborah walked through a set of draft policy statements related to schools that reflect the discussions of this PEG since June. Several of these are adaptations of policies enacted in 1979, since the desired outcomes are still relevant and meaningful. Deborah explained that these draft policies may change before being incorporated into the Working Draft document, but are being shared now in order to fill the PEG in on staff’s work-in-progress. Feedback at this stage is welcome, but the PEG’s feedback will be more meaningful when the Working Draft is published and we’ll have more opportunity for a robust discussion of school-related policies as well as policies addressing other related topics (such as housing, jobs, neighborhood centers, etc.).

Deborah discussed the policy interplay between the City and school districts. Examples of City policies that affect school districts and schools include:

  • Zoning and density (i.e., housing types and densities can significantly affect school enrollment, either up or down)
  • Housing policies (such as incentives for affordable housing to be concentrated in particular areas)
  • Urban renewal
  • Transportation investments
  • Land use review processes for schools

Examples of school district policies that affect the City of Portland include:

  • Enrollment boundaries
  • School reconfiguration
  • Reuse of school buildings and sites
  • Student transfer policies

The Comprehensive Plan Working Draft, which will include goals and policies in draft form along with commentary to help the reader understand context and background, will be released for public review in December. 

PEG Discussion
Questions and observations offered by PEG members:

  • There isn’t a draft policy that supports adding flexibility for how the City regulates schools when they propose improvements and facility modifications.
  • The City needs to prioritize investments in East Portland to make up for significant disparities.
  • Karen Fischer Gray announced Parkrose School District is poised to adopt an Educational Equity Policy, which she will make available to the PEG.
  • PEG members asked how coordination currently takes place between the City of Portland and school districts.  Are there regular meetings?
  • It would be helpful to see a list of expectations that the City would want to express in the form of an intergovernmental agreement with each of its school districts. This is something that the PEG can provide advice and feedback.
  • The City and school district practices don’t currently point to shared objectives.
  • Other questions about coordination:
    • Is it supported within the organizations? (How?)
    • Is the community engaged, too, on these issues?  Is there good public / stakeholder involvement?
    • How can coordination be made ongoing?
  • PEG members’ advice on City / school district coordination:
    • There should be a shared agenda for coordination: Safe Routes to Schools and other supportive infrastructure investments; joint use of school buildings; school use of City parks; planning / zoning / permitting; housing policy; urban renewal; SUN schools.
    • Involvement of middle management is important: they can “rule the world.”  Build connections at the staff level, “like a spider web”.

Reflections and Feedback on PEG to Date
Deborah Stein asked PEG members to comment on the value of the PEG meetings at this mid-point—Meeting #5.

  • In general, PEG members reported the meetings have provided good information and led to provocative discussions.  Some asked if the meetings have been giving the City of Portland what it needs: “I’m not sure what you want us to do.”  Should the PEG take on “pressure point” issues such as school closures?  Also, should PEG members interact more with the public and ask them questions?
  • Suggestions for improvement:
    • Focus on school services, not just buildings
    • Spend more time exploring planning / zoning / permitting issues
    • Make greater use of electronic communications

Public Comment
No members of the public were present during the public comment period.

Next Steps
Clark Worth announced the next PEG meeting on November 19 will focus on equity.

Meeting Handouts and Presentations:

For more information, please contact either Deborah Stein, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability at 503-823-6991 or deborah.stein@portlandoregon.gov, or Clark Worth, Facilitator at 503-222-0146 or clark@barneyandworth.com

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