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January 27, 2008

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Regardless of what they have decided (and I also read the piece in full from Nancy), they won't be able to do a thing if we all vote "NO" on the bond!

"Once-glorious Jefferson High School is not what it used to be. Its hip roof was removed, and its deteriorating brickwork covered with paint and plaster."
HA! Could this be because the buildings are never maintained? I am trying to post a picture of the hallway of our school, where the ceiling has been patched and repatched for years now...The ceiling tiles were painted over last week to cover up the huge brown stains from the water seeping steadily in. I've been told there's no money to fix things....NO COST SOLUTIONS is the new buzz word in PPS regarding everyting. Hope the picture uploads...Photobucket

Sorry....no picture, and I forgot to sign my name above.

That's true Zarwen.

But I'm not necessarily opposed to rebuilding schools if that's what's required. I am opposed however to a design that cements into place a school "improvement" scheme opposed by just about everybody in the Jefferson community.

If the charrette charade is successful, then I would vote NO. That assumes that community outrage won't stop the charrette dead in its tracks.

Terry,

Here is a portion of an email I sent to a friend a few days ago:

"I was reflecting on all we talked about this morning and realized something important for the big picture. If PPS really does want to pass a bond to renovate schools, their timing couldn't possibly be worse. After ruining so many schools and neighborhoods, after exacerbating the overcrowding AND undercrowding problems, after spending all that money on curriculum materials that aren't getting used, after failing to deliver on promised "enrichment" courses, and worst of all, after selling us a levy just last year (deep breath here), there are too many hurt feelings, too many families pissed off, and too many messes left for Carole Smith to clean up before they should be coming to us to ask for more money. Realistically, they need to wait 2-5 years before they should be asking for this. I know Vicki Phillips is the one who set this in motion, but if Carole Smith and company have any prudence whatsoever, they will set it aside until the fallout has simmered down some."

And now I can add these "charrettes" to the list.

What it all adds up to is violation of public trust. Not an entity I am willing to give a billion dollars to!

It's no coincidence that the result of the PPS/PCC team's design charrette for Jefferson is more like a small college campus than a high school. The proposed design would be just an interim step toward closing Jefferson and handing over the land (and new college-like buildings) to Portland Community College, which has been lusting over the Jefferson property for years. PPS and PCC must think the Jefferson community is full of a bunch of naive idiots if they try to present that design as a serious plan for our school.

Terry:

Thank you for bringing this situation to light.

At the North facilities meeting held at Jefferson during the Mayor's week, the overwhelming consensus was to refurbish our city's older brick school buildings and rebuild those of lesser quality from the 1950s era. Even the Magellan representative said many districts they have worked with recognized the quality of school buildings built in the early 1900s, and chose to refurbish instead of rebuild them. Jefferson is no exception.

This is all about the dishonest PPS plan to close Jefferson by breaking it into several smaller buildings that can be eventually leased and/or sold to PCC and/or other establishments. This is all about PPS doing what it has done for years - using Jefferson High School for their latest experiment under the guise of "caring" about Jefferson students - knowing full well their "flavor of the year" experiment will serve to do nothing but chase more families/students away from the school.

The latest foray in Washington DC with the PPS/PCC "charrette" proves the district intends to use Jefferson High School as its guinea pig once again.

While the Jefferson community recognizes the need for upgrades to Jefferson High School, PPS better get ready for a battle like it's never seen if it moves forward any plan to destroy the current building. Jefferson families have had enough!

Has the PPS board publicly acknowledged that these plans have been drawn up? How much did these planning services cost?

I agree that we should be stewards of the beautiful buildings that PPS owns. I for one have said from the beginning I would fight against any bond measure. The study of the facilities should have been done before any closures, reconfigurations, etc etc...I think this whole idea is being pushed forward by the PPS CFO. Although our building is falling apart, and I am told there "is no money..." I can't help but think of all the millions wasted over the last few years....the custodians fiasco, Goldschmidt, Magellan....No attempt has been made to take care of our existing buildings....Why would we want to spend millions more on new ones?

I have been thinking about what the origins of this word "charrette" must be. Here is what I came up with:

To "char" means to burn something; "-ette" is usually a diminutive, referring to something (or someone) as small. Based on this, I conclude that "charrette" is something that is intended to burn up the hopes and dreams of our children.

This definition works especially well when applied to Jefferson.

I would be very interested to hear a statement from PPS on this. Since there is a clear consensus now that Jefferson needs to be one, comprehensive school, I would think this "charette" exercise is now moot, regardless of who paid for it.

If there's still momentum within BESC on this, in spite of the statements of Carole Smith, Leslie Rennie-Hill and Cynthia Harris re. restoring Jefferson as a comprehensive school, we deserve to know about it.

Either way, PPS should come clean, just like they should come clean about the $1 million plus that went missing from the Ockley grant. There's no time like the present to try to build/restore trust in the community.

Excellent comments from Jefferson Parents Nancy Smith and James Crittenden on KATU 5 o'clock news.

Don't assume that PPS will follow through on restoring Jefferson as a comprehensive school until they take official action. The school board unanimously approved the V. Phillips small academy plan for dividing Jefferson by board resolution (ever heard of divide and conquer?), and they would need to undo it with a board vote. Until then it's probably wise to consider PPS staff's announcement to mend Jefferson as a public relations stunt for the benefit of people following the Mayor's Week at Jefferson. Or an effort to temporarily distract the Jefferson community from the ultimate PPS plan to close down the high school.

It was only a few months ago that senior PPS district staff, the JHS principal, and the PCC president were in Washington DC planning to demolish the Jefferson building and replace it with four separate "academy" buildings, with a skybridge to PCC - oh, and a Jefferson memorial wall to appease the angry community. And now suddenly there's a clear consensus within PPS that Jefferson should be one comprehensive school? I don't think so. Don't be fooled by empty promises to the community just because there's a new smiling face at the helm of the ship. Who, in case you've forgotten, was hired by Miss Vicki Chips herself.

Well, I'm no fool. I'm looking for "proof points," as Smith's chief of staff Zeke Smith calls them. They've announced their intention for one small step in the right direction, and I'm waiting to see if they follow through.

In the meantime, I'm willing to respectfully assume they're acting in good faith, and I'm willing to continue to negotiate in good faith for the future of Jefferson High.

I'm prepared to ask for a further proof point of restoring the music department at Jefferson. There is some amazing musical talent at that school, as evidenced in the Sun School Choir. These student artists should be getting credit and certified instruction during their school day for music.

If, in the end, they turn out to have been disingenuous in engaging the community, there is likely to be an uprising in the Jefferson community. These people have been pushed around far too long, and there will be no other recourse but direct action.

Either way, we'll have a better idea by August.

In last weeks Economist, there's a semi-decent article on reading sentiment from large masses of anecdotal data (tweets, mainly).

Love those! I enjoy following your posts on facebook and rss!

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