The Portland Public Schools Board of Education is scheduled to vote tonight on proposed changes to the district’s enrollment and transfer policy.

The proposed changes aim to make the district’s policy more equitable. SACET the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for Enrollment & Transfer, spent more than a year developing initial suggestions, many of which have been maintained. 

Changes have been discussed at multiple board meetings and two public hearings. The board held a first reading Dec. 16. 

If approved, the policy will end the lottery transfer system for neighborhood schools. Transfers to and from neighborhood schools would be solely through a petition system, which is the same process already used for high schools. 

The policy would also modify the transfer system for focus option schools. Transfers will be considered through a lottery and then the petition process after the lottery closes.

If there are are more requests than spots at a focus school, then the district will consider a series of preferences to dictate placement. The policy creates a preference for low-income or head start students to match the district-wide average. This preference will go into effect at schools where the number of low -income students is lower than the district average.

The policy maintains sibling preference before priority for low-income students and gives the board the ability to review the order of preferences.

Additionally, policy changes would allow special education students to remain at a school outside their neighborhood. Changes call for the district to create a process to collect and maintain data about petition requests. Policy changes would require additional staff and training and initiate a focus option school review program. 

If approved, the policy would be implemented for the 2015-2016 school year. 

At the meeting the board is also scheduled to hear a Division 22 Report, which addresses instructional hours and other administrative rules, and discuss preliminary budget priorities for next school year. 

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Board Auditorium at the Blanchard Education Service Center, located at 501 N. Dixon Street. 

–Laura Frazier

503-294-4035; @frazier_laura

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