Portland Public Schools, Oregon
Portland Public Schools (PPS) is a public school district located in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It is the largest school district
School district
School districts are a form of special-purpose district which serves to operate the local public primary and secondary schools.-United States:...

 in the state of Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, and in the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

. It is a Pre K-12 district with an enrollment of approximately 47,000 students. About 85 schools and 50 special needs sites are maintained within the district.


The first public school in Portland was a schoolhouse taught by John T. Outhouse from December 15, 1851 until March 1853, when Abigail M. Clarke began teaching. Outhouse received $100 per month to teach, but had to supplement his income by removing stumps from the streets and by working on the docks. The school was funded by a legislative act in 1849. The school, and a second school that opened in November 1852, were closed by August 1853.

Two school districts were organized at a December 18, 1854 meeting, with a school board containing Thomas Frazier, William S. Ladd
William S. Ladd
William Sargent Ladd was an American politician and businessman in Oregon. He twice served as Portland, Oregon’s mayor in the 1850s. A native of Vermont, he was a prominent figure in the early development of Portland, and co-founded the first bank in the state in 1859...

, and Shubrick Norris. The districts were named School District Number 1 and School District Number 2, but were merged on March 31, 1856 into a single School District Number 1.

School District Number 1 opened a school in fall 1855, presumably replacing the school started by Outhouse and Clarke. This school was presided over by Sylvester Pennoyer
Sylvester Pennoyer
Sylvester Pennoyer was an American educator, attorney, and politician in Oregon. He was born in New York, attended Harvard Law School, and moved to Oregon at age 25. A Democrat, he served two terms as the eighth Governor of Oregon from 1886 to 1895. He joined the Populist cause in the early 1890s...

 and closed in six months, as the funds were exhausted. In 1858, a new schoolhouse was built, financed by canceling school for a year. The school was located at Sixth and Morrison and named the Central School. The Central School location was later occupied by the Portland Hotel
Portland Hotel
The Portland Hotel was a late-19th-century hotel in Portland, Oregon, United States that once occupied the city block on which Pioneer Courthouse Square now stands. It closed in 1951 after 61 years of operation.-History:...

 and is now Pioneer Courthouse Square
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Pioneer Courthouse Square, affectionately known as Portland's living room, is a public space occupying a full 40,000 ft² city block in the center of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States...

. A high school, Portland High School, was opened in 1869, and a night school program was created at the high school in 1889.

In the 1860s, the school budget was very low, about $10 per student per year. William S. Ladd
William S. Ladd
William Sargent Ladd was an American politician and businessman in Oregon. He twice served as Portland, Oregon’s mayor in the 1850s. A native of Vermont, he was a prominent figure in the early development of Portland, and co-founded the first bank in the state in 1859...

, known for being thrifty, raised objections to the school paying for supplies such as ink, requiring students to instead make their own by boiling oak bark and carrying it in animal horns.

In 1867, shoemaker William Brown, one of approximately 200 black people then living in Portland, sued the school district for refusing to educate the 16 black children in the city. The Colored School opened in fall 1867, discontinuing in 1872 when a local referendum supported integration. By December 1873, 30 students (out of 1048) in the district were black.

By the end of the 1870s, there were four elementary schools: Central School (1858-?), Harrison School (1866-?), Colored School (Portland, Oregon) (1867–1872), and North School (1868-?).

Portland schools were questioned by Harvey W. Scott
Harvey W. Scott
Harvey Whitefield Scott was an American pioneer, newspaper editor, and historian.Scott was born in on a farm in Illinois and migrated to Oregon with his family in 1852, settling in Yamhill County. He and his family moved near Olympia, Washington in 1853. At age 18, he fought in the American Indian...

 and The Oregonian
The Oregonian
The Oregonian is the major daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon, owned by Advance Publications. It is the oldest continuously published newspaper on the U.S. west coast, founded as a weekly by Thomas J. Dryer on December 4, 1850...

 in 1880, especially regarding the efficacy and practicality of public high schools. The yearly cost to educate a student in 1879 in Portland was $24.06.

A compulsory education
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

 program was enacted in Oregon on February 25, 1889. By 1891, the district contained 95 teachers, seven elementary schools, one high school, and one night school. The schools were described as crowded by The Oregonian at that time. Other school districts in East Portland and Albina were combined in 1891 (with 83% of residents voting in favor of consolidation). This added nine elementary schools, 74 teachers, and 2698 students to the system.

The St. Johns (school) District was annexed on July 7, 1915, and the James John High School was added at this time. On the suggestion of superintendent Lewis H. Alderman, high school dances were allowed by the school board beginning in 1915, with the stipulation that "the parents of a majority of the students attend." Portable classroom
Portable classroom
A portable classroom A portable classroom A portable classroom (in Australian English a demountable and often referred to as a demountable, a "Terrapin" or a "Portakabin" (after the two companies) in the UK and called a prefab in Ireland (not to be confused with a prefabricated building) is a...

s were used, especially in 1919, with 60 portables added. By this time, there were evening schools taught at Benson High School, Girls' Polytechnic (later merged with Benson), Commerce, Jefferson High School, Ladd, and Lincoln High School. A new administration building opened at 7th and Clackamas in the Lloyd District.

On June 21, 1924, a $5 million bond was passed to build and remodel schools over the next five years, part of a planned three-part construction program expected to last 15 years and cost $15 million. Four new schools were planned during the first five years. By 1927, there were 43,419 elementary students served.

In 1930, the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 caused a decrease in the number of elementary students enrolled, but an increase in both men and women in the high schools. The 1931 annual report stated: "At no previous time has the question of clothing, books, and carfare been so serious. Realizing that idleness is perhaps the greatest contributing factor toward delinquency, we hope to double our efforts this fall in the attempt to keep every child in school who should be there." Teacher salaries, school year length, and other cost-cutting measures were made in 1932-1933.

A new superintendent, Ralph E. Dugdale, began on August 26, 1937. He strongly believed "the schools of Portland were training people for jobs that did not exist," and began making aggressive curriculum and organizational changes. Twelve committees (with 169 faculty) over elementary education were created, and monthly report cards were canceled (in 1950, this was described as a "nationwide trend of discarding the antiquated method of sending monthly reports on student grades to parents."). Instead, occasional and irregular reports on academics and citizenship were sent home. Examinations on general knowledge and knowledge of educational development were instituted for new instructors. High school students were required to pass a minimum number of credits per semester, and then were evaluated to see if an alternative school would work better.

The district trained a large number of defense
Civil defense
Civil defense, civil defence or civil protection is an effort to protect the citizens of a state from military attack. It uses the principles of emergency operations: prevention, mitigation, preparation, response, or emergency evacuation, and recovery...

 workers in the national defense program, in preparation for World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 . About 10,000 men were trained in 1941 in airplane construction, shipbuilding, and other fields. During September 1942, 4400 additional elementary students enrolled. Ten teachers were added. There was an increased number of freshmen and sophomores in the high schools, but an overall loss of 832 students due to war industries and enlistment. By 1942, there were 63,238 school-age students, with 54,655 registered, and 1,613 instructors in 76 buildings.

In 1945, Dr. Willard B. Spalding, superintendent since 1943, issued a 120-page report titled "Modernizing the School Plant", calling for a $25 million building program and projecting major changes in store. Fighting with Governor Earl Snell
Earl Snell
Earl Willcox Snell was an Oregon businessman American Republican politician, serving in the Oregon House of Representatives, as the Oregon Secretary of State, and as the 23rd Governor of Oregon....

 for a special legislative session, high school students struck for a day. In August 1946, 50 kindergartens were closed due to lack of funds and instructors. Other large cost-cutting measures were taken, including discussion of closing high school sports programs. Spalding and his Assistant Superintendent went on recruiting trips in the south and east states. Spalding resigned on June 30, 1947 to become the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Paul A. Rehmus was the next superintendent, notable for having the highest annual salary of any superintendent in the history of Portland Public Schools to this time- $13,000. Rehmus rejected progressive education, stating "The term 'progressive education' as a definite school of teaching method does not exist. The demarcation between what is formal and what is progressive education is almost impossible to define." In 1947, a $25 million levy was approved by voters, as well as $1.7 million to balance the operational budget.

On June 30, 1949, there were 73,972 school-age students in the district boundaries, with 49,825 registered for school. The district had 1,828 teachers and 76 buildings.

In October 1949 a "secret society problem" developed where three high school fraternities were involved in the "manhandling of a girl student." 50 boys had taken part in the incident, part of an initiation. An emergency school board meeting led to the banning of secret societies in the district. Parents and adult members of these secret societies filed a lawsuit in 1950.

Three high school were voted to close in 1981: Jackson High School
Jackson High School (Portland, Oregon)
Andrew Jackson High School was a public high school in Portland, Oregon. It was in the Portland Public Schools, and closed in 1982. Three years after the closure the facility was re-opened as a middle school....

 in southwest Portland, Adams High School
Adams High School (Oregon)
John Adams High School was a public high school in Portland, Oregon. It was in the Portland Public Schools, and closed in 1982....

 in southeast Portland, and Washington-Monroe High School
Washington High School (Portland, Oregon)
Washington High School was a high school in Portland, Oregon, United States, described in 1950 as "Portland's finest high school." It was part of the Portland school district. Opened in September 1906, the school was originally named the East Side High School, but changed its name to Washington in...

 in the inner eastside. The Adams and Jackson closures were done after a 3:30am vote of school board members, and a board member had to be followed home by a police escort. The closures were done due to low enrollment and to balance the budget, but the community and a board member threatened lawsuits.


The Portland Public Schools enrolls 84% of the city's available school-age children. Nonetheless, total school enrollment is declining, accompanying a change in Portland's demographics. As a result, the Portland Public Schools are facing increasing budget pressure.

In the 2009 school year, the district had 1706 students classified as homeless by the Department of Education
Oregon Department of Education
The Department of Education of the U.S. state of Oregon is responsible for implementation of state policies with respect to public education at the kindergarten through community college level, including academic standards and testing, credentials, and other matters not reserved to the local...

, or 3.8% of students in the district.

Elementary schools (K-5)

  • Abernethy
  • Ainsworth
  • Alameda
  • Astor
  • Atkinson
  • Ball
  • Beach
  • Boise-Eliot
  • Bridger
  • Bridlemile
  • Buckman
  • Capital Hill
  • Chapman

  • Chief Joseph
  • Clark
  • Creston
  • Duniway
  • Faubion
  • Findley
  • Forest Park
  • Glencoe
  • Grout
  • Hayhurst
  • Humboldt
  • James John

  • Kelly
  • Laurelhurst
  • Lee
  • Lent
  • Lewis
  • Llewellyn
  • Maplewood
  • Markham
  • Marysville
  • Peninsula
  • Richmond
  • Rieke

  • Rigler
  • Sabin
  • Scott
  • Sitton
  • Skyline
  • Stephenson
  • Vernon
  • Vestal
  • Whitman
  • Woodlawn
  • Woodmere
  • Woodstock

Mixed grade

School grade ranges of schools listed below are K-8 unless noted.

  • Arleta School
  • Beverly Cleary School
    Beverly Cleary School
    The Beverly Cleary School is a public school in Portland, Oregon, United States. The school educates children in kindergarten through eighth-grade and is part of the Portland Public School District . Formed in 2007 as Hollyrood-Fernwood School, it was renamed for children's author and Fernwood...

     (formerly Hollyrood-Fernwood)
  • Clarendon-Portsmouth
  • Irvington
  • Joseph L. Meek Professional Technical
Meek Pro Tech operates an ungraded alternative high school for 16- to 21-year olds previously unsuccessful in traditional high school programs.
  • King, Pre-K-8
King is transitioning to an International Baccalaureate Programme.
  • Metropolitan Learning Center
    Metropolitan Learning Center (Portland, Oregon)
    Metropolitan Learning Center is a public K-12 school in Portland, Oregon, United States.-Academics:In 2008, 86% of the school's seniors received their high school diploma. Of 35 students, 30 graduated, 4 dropped out, and 1 received a modified diploma....

    , K-12
  • Ockley Green School
  • Sunnyside Environmental School
    Sunnyside Environmental School
    The Sunnyside Environmental School , is a public school in Portland, Oregon, United States. Formerly known as the "Environmental Middle School", Sunnyside is a kindergarten through eighth grade school in the Portland School District with a total enrollment of 560 students: 320 in grades...

  • Trillium Charter School
    Trillium Charter School
    Trillium Charter School is a K-12 school located in Portland, Oregon, United States.-Academics:In 2008, 55% of the school's seniors received their high school diploma. Of 20 students, 11 graduated, 5 dropped out, and 4 are still in high school....

    , K-12
  • Winterhaven
Winterhaven has an accelerated program with a special focus on math, science and technology. By the time students finish 8th grade, they have completed freshman math, science, and English.

On November 9, 1995, the Portland Public Schools Board of Education approved a proposal, called the Winterhaven Plan, to establish the school. According to the school's Web site, the plan includes these elements:
  • "A flexible, creative, and rigorous learning environment geared to the level and rate of the individual student"
  • "An accelerated curriculum which includes integrated projects, special interest classes, community service, and work-related experiences"
  • "An emphasis on the development of intellect, character, and creativity with a fostering of a sense of belonging and community"

Middle schools (6-8)

  • Beaumont
  • Binnsmead
  • daVinci Arts
  • George
  • Gray

  • Hosford
  • Jackson
  • Lane
  • Mt. Tabor

  • Roseway Heights
  • Sellwood
  • Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women
  • East/West Sylvan

High schools (9-12)

  • Benson Polytechnic High School
    Benson Polytechnic High School
    Benson Polytechnic High School is a technical public high school in the Portland Public Schools district. Its campus is located in the center of Portland's Eastside commercial area. Students are given a special emphasis in a technical area...

  • Cleveland High School
  • Franklin High School
  • Grant High School
  • Jefferson High School Middle College for Advanced Studies
  • Lincoln High School
  • Madison High School
    Madison High School (Portland, Oregon)
    For other schools of the same name, see Madison High School.James Madison High School, known as Madison High School, is a public high school in Portland, Oregon, United States. It was founded in 1957 and named after James Madison, the fourth US President and coauthor of the Constitution. In 2005,...

  • Roosevelt High School
    Roosevelt High School (Portland, Oregon)
    Roosevelt High School is a public high school in Portland, Oregon, United States.-History:Due to the baby boom and passing of a $25 million building levy by the school district in 1947, completion of a wing already under construction and a new gymnasium were slated. It was described as the "worst...

    • Arts, Communications & Technology (ACT)
    • Pursuit of Wellness Education (POWER)
    • Spanish-English International (SEIS)
  • Wilson High School
    Woodrow Wilson High School (Portland, Oregon)
    Woodrow Wilson High School, known as Wilson High School, is a public high school in Portland, Oregon, United States. In 2006, the school was one of seven in Oregon ranked among America's 1,200 best high schools by Newsweek. In 2008, Wilson was voted 37th out of all the public high schools in all...

Closed high schools

  • Adams High School
    Adams High School (Oregon)
    John Adams High School was a public high school in Portland, Oregon. It was in the Portland Public Schools, and closed in 1982....

     (closed 1981)
  • Jackson High School
    Jackson High School (Portland, Oregon)
    Andrew Jackson High School was a public high school in Portland, Oregon. It was in the Portland Public Schools, and closed in 1982. Three years after the closure the facility was re-opened as a middle school....

     (closed 1981)
  • Marshall High School
    Marshall High School (Portland, Oregon)
    Marshall High School is a former public high school in Portland, Oregon, United States. The school opened on September 6, 1960, and is named for John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States...

     (closed 2011)
  • Washington-Monroe High School (closed 1981)

School board

  • Carole Smith, Superintendent
  • Ruth Adkins (Zone #1)
  • David Wynde (Zone #2)
  • Bobbie Regan (Zone #3)
  • Martin Gonzales (Zone #4)
  • Pam Knowles (Zone #5)
  • Trudy Sargent (Zone #6)
  • Dilafruz Williams (Zone #7)

Student representatives

In addition to seven board members, every year a Student Representative is chosen to serve on the board for an entire school year. Although his or her vote does not technically count, the student member is allowed to vote on issues and sit on the committees along with the board members. Student representatives are treated as active Board Members and are addressed by the title Student Director. They are also allowed to recommend certain policies for the Board to pass.

Immersion programs

PPS has several Language immersion
Language immersion
Language immersion is a method of teaching a second language in which the target language is used as the means of instruction. Unlike more traditional language courses, where the target language is simply the subject material, language immersion uses the target language as a teaching tool,...

 programs. These include one for Mandarin Chinese at Woodstock Elementary, and a Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 Immersion program at Atkinson Elementary. Both immersion programs feed to Hosford Middle School, which in turn feeds to Cleveland High School. Beach, Clarendon-Portsmouth (now, Cesar Chavez School) and Ainsworth Elementary Schools all have Spanish Immersion programs as well, which feed to Lincoln High. There is also a Japanese Immersion Program which runs through Richmond Elementary, Mt. Tabor Middle School, and Grant High School.

See also

  • Portland Interscholastic League
    Portland Interscholastic League
    The Portland Interscholastic League is a high school athletic conference in Portland, Oregon that is a member of the Oregon School Activities Association . It consists of high schools in the Portland Public Schools district...

  • List of school districts in Oregon
  • Multnomah Education Service District
    Multnomah Education Service District
    Multnomah Education Service District is an educational service district that coordinates school based events and activities throughout the school districts in Multnomah County, Oregon, United States.-Districts:...

  • David Douglas School District
    David Douglas School District
    David Douglas School District is a school district located in eastern Portland, Oregon, United States. It was formed in 1959 as a consolidation of the Gilbert, Powellhurst, and Russellville elementary school districts and the David Douglas Union High School District...

    , serving part of eastern Portland

External links

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