School News

Updated 11/14/19
Please take a look at SW News for most recent updates on projects and activities for the SWNI Schools Committee. Website updates will be done through Fall 2019 and into the first quarter of 2020. For information, please contact us at

October 23, 2019 -  SWNI Schools Update fom SWNI Board Meeting

Smith Elementary – Demolishing the Media Center Building soon. Adding lights and security options.

Focus: Gathering data for a PPS Bond Measure for 2020. We should know more by March 2020. SWNI Board may want to provide information and Schools Committee member(s) will attend meetings ahead of this time. Note: Wilson HS renovation is slated as part of this bond measure.

Robert Gray MS: Racial and Equity Issue Elevated the information and what PPS could say after issue occurred. Response from parents – do more when safety is at the core of the problem.

PTA, Staff and Parents are working together and in groups. Robert Gray website has info about specific curriculum info. SWNI Schools remaining HCF Speak Up funds ($293) may be used by PTA at RGMS. Watch for info on additional meetings: PTA – either later this year or in Jan. 2020

Student Success Act - $39 million possible with grants to PPS. Community meetings are in process. Survey online too. Wrapped into the ReImagining – Vision Process. Attended 2 sessions to provide SW perspective.

In the community: Oct. 19 - Multi-City Equity Summit –  This is the type of resource/conference we should be tapping into, individually or in small SWNI Board groups. Great speakers, exposure to other groups, free. Included professors, educators, law enforcement, community members, council members from suburban cities. (Video was taken, unclear if it is available for review. Even the keynote address only would be a great start for SWNI Board to view.)

**************************************************Next regular SWNI Schools meeting Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. Room 4 with Andrew Scott, PPS Board Member and Patrick LeBoeuf PPS Facilities, Dana White PPS Capital Investments. September Schools meeting was well attended – Filip Hristic, Wilson HS Principal met with us. The Board received a small written report from me, though not reviewed at the meeting. Young parents and NA members.

Information about prior Schools Committee work:

September 2017 - SWNI Schools Committee
Lessons Learned About Inclusion and Equity from Tech
Equity Project – 2015-2017

- Realize that valuable work and the process takes time – years and decades, not weeks or months
- Go to where the audience you want to reach lives attends school or activities or works. Personally invite people to attend.
- Partner with other organizations.
- Stay flexible and open.
- Build on prior successes. (Update tasks so that problems may be worked out as early as possible.)
- Be curious – Figure out what is needed and how steps may be taken be taken short term and long term. 
- If one person attends it is worth the meeting time.
- Include the children – figure out what they can do while you are working and realize the meeting will be disrupted a few times.
- Stay consistent. Go back again and again.
- Communicate in as many ways as possible.
- Create task lists (manageable number of actions) and try to pair the right person with each task
- Get info into as many people’s hands as possible via a person distribution (or phone contact.)
- Remember many people are volunteers and they bring skills that can be used – figure out how best to use the skills the team or group brings. (Also if several people can buddy up and cover each other off – utilize this kind of structure.) 
- Look for ways and things that are already being done that you may participate in and add support.
- Keep each project as simple as possible. Define terms for everyone.
- Use Google translate or services via the library or schools or better yet – bring someone along who will volunteer to be the translator.
- The best plans can be altered with bad weather or illnesses. Have a backup plan or two.

For Questions? – Maripat Hensel –


Upcoming opportunities to work with the SWNI Schools Committee on Reach Outs and planning for Fall 2018.

August 1 - Math Tutoring at noon at Capitol Hill Library

August 7 - Schools Reach Out - with Partner West Portland Park at National Night Out (NNO) - 6 p.m. Puzzles, Legos and more! (Math support included.)

August 10 - More Math Tutoring at noon at Capitol Hill Library

August 12 - Schools Reach Out - with St. Luke Lutheran Church at Drum Circle event at Gabriel Park at 12:30 p.m. - See SW News - Donations for Portland Parks & Rec.

August 15 - Planning and Coffee Conversation at MJCC Cafe at 10:30 a.m. - then, a tentative (still to be confirmed) excursion to Stephens Creek Crossing for a Reach Out with students at 1 p.m.

August 17 - Math Tutoring at noon at Capitol Hill Library

Next regular SWNI Schools Committee Meeting - Sept. 20 at Mult Art Center at 7 p.m.


2017-2018 Action Plan Approved at July 26, 2017 SWNI Board Meeting
The SWNI Schools Committee Action Plan was approved at the July 26 Board meeting. and again in November. Efforts are being made to get out to schools and to provide online alternatives for input to be collected and committee members are meeting with Neighborhood Associations to provide information about activities and projects that are in process and being considered. 

Maripat Hensel is New Schools Committee Chair

It is my pleasure to announce that Maripat Hensel, of Arnold Creek NA, is the new Schools Committee chair, effective immediately on her appointment at the June 22 SWNI Board meeting. Will Fuller, Outgoing Chair.

2015-16 School Year in Review

Our big event was Tech Connect in November, which went well, and the follow-up 2016 Tech Connections project for families which will be going through the fall.  We have also worked on increasing committee membership (up to 10 neighborhoods),  as well as representing SWNI in a variety of activities and issues involving our students in Portland Public Schools.

Here are some highlights:

Configuration Changes

  • Westside Enrollment and Boundary changes, such as
    -- Bridlemile split feeder pattern between Wilson and Lincoln
    --Maplewood students will go to Jackson instead of Robert Gray
    --Smith to reopen in 2019?
    --Odyssey program moves from Hayhurst to East Sylvan building, with same principal.
  • Initial capital bond work on Roosevelt, Franklin, Grant remodels is going well after a rocky start:.
  • Second bond has questions and soft support.
    November ballot or 2017 or later?
    Which schools?  Lincoln, Madison yes, but Benson?
    Lead abatement to be added?

Student Achievement Changes

  • Discipline referrals are reduced about half in 2 years, but racial disparities are about the same.
  • The new Common Core curriculum is in place and getting positive reviews.
  • New Smarter Balanced testing is still long and complex, but measures more meaningful skills than OAKS did.  Properly administered, these tests provide a summary of each student’s achievement for the year, and strategic information for district planning

Management Issues

These arose largely after our last meeting, and we try to stay away from District-level issues, but they are affecting all schools including ours here in the SWNI area.

  • Lead in water, some lead paint and other contamination
  • Risk assessment by TKW paints what Tribune called “damning portrait of operations and management.”
  • School Board conflicts among members
  • Board vs Superintendent issues
  • High administration turnover
  • Recent calls for Superintendent’s resignation.

In sum: ... there’ll be a lot for next year’s committee to tackle.