Portland School District Boundaries Changing

Portland school districts change

Fall 2023 Update.

Location, location, location is the most important thing in real estate. For many Portland home buyers, this statement could be rephrased as “Good schools, great schools, and the best school for my child.” In Portland, the neighborhood you live in determines which schools your child or children will attend, so news that Portland Public Schools is changing is district boundaries is a game-changer (and may cause some anxiety).

Out of Balance School Populations Lead to Changes

PPS is the largest of six school districts within the Portland Metro Area. It serves 44,0000 at over 80 elementary, middle and high schools, but it says that enrollment at those schools has been out of balance for the past few years. Some Portland neighborhoods are gentrifying and those schools have a lack of students, while other neighborhoods have added dozens of new families and their schools are overcrowded.

Upcoming School District Boundary Changes

During the pandemic Portland Public Schools lost close to 5,000 enrolled students. With enrollment projected to continue to decline by 5,000 students over the next 12 years, the school district has responded by redrawing the lines that determine which schools students attend.

The impetus for change was a reconfiguration of K-8 schools back to K-5 and middle schools that was initiated by the PPS Board of Education in 2016. The most current district changes have existed in two phases as part of the Enrollment and Program Balancing (EPB) process launched in 2019. Phase one focused on concurrently reconfiguring Southeast Portland K-8 elementary schools while rebuilding and reopening Kellogg Middle School. (Incidentally Kellogg Middle School is Portland Public Schools’ first new middle school in over 50 years and was specifically designed with students in mind with many thoughtful student-centered features. As part of the plan it will eventually become the largest middle school in the region.) The redistricting determined which schools would now feed into the newest middle school.

Phase two resulted from a recommendation from now-retired Deputy Superintendent Claire Hertz. The boundary changes focused mostly on Southeast Portland and included plans around balancing enrollment for Harrison Park Middle School, Lane Middle School, and Kellogg Middle School. You can read the full recommendation here. It includes the methodology used in coming to specific recommendations, the proposed boundary changes, financial impact, and the motivation for undertaking these changes. It also includes an impact analysis for those looking for more specific data.

A 2022 article from PDX Parent takes a deep dive into the history, district needs, and the procedures used in the redistricting process. It also highlights a number of issues that came up during planning and throughout the entire process. These include a lack of transparency on final decisions, no true solution for balancing efforts (which could lead to a lack of staff resources), and a failure to follow through on BIPOC involvement and considering the needs on families in the affected areas. Nonetheless, with an emphasis on its potential benefits, the school district has moved forward with the plan.

The implementation of Phase 2 will begin in the Fall of 2023, which is just around the corner. To ease the transition, boundary changes will only affect incoming kindergarteners and sixth graders into elementary and middle schools and allow other students to remain at their current schools through the highest grade level. For more information and to find an interactive map where you can enter your address to find your assigned neighborhood school, visit the PPS SE Enrollment & Program Balancing implementation page.

Research Portland Schools

If you’re home shopping in Portland right now and schools are important to you, be sure to do your homework. Just because the home is near a desirable school doesn’t mean that the district will send your child there. Looking at the redistricting proposals as they develop will help. Your real estate agent will be a great resource to help you figure out the lay of the land and the schools.

What is a great school? Educational experts agree that what makes a great school for one student does not make it so for another student. If you are curious about how your neighborhood school or future neighborhood school ranks, check out our article on the variety of other sites that rank schools. Once you know one or two possible schools that your child might attend, be sure to visit in person. Check out the facilities and meet the teachers and administrators. A short visit says a lot more than test scores and online rankings! PPS holds open houses between January and March; click here for the schedule.

If the Portland home you’re hoping to buy is perfect except that you don’t love the school you’re most likely to get, there’s always a possibility of getting your child transferred to a different school within the district. You must write a petition that explains why your child needs to transfer. Transfers are only made if there is space at the requested school.

Work with a Local Expert

Portlanders value education. Our buyer’s team gets asked about neighborhood schools nearly every time they show a home to families. With the redistricting process already moving ahead, our top 1% Portland buyers agents are happy to help home buyers understand how the outcome of these redistricting efforts might affect their purchase. Just ask!

If you’re looking for a top real estate team to help you find the best home for yourself or your family, give us a call today at 503-773-0000, or chat with the bot on this site. We’d love to connect today!

September 4, 2023

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.5% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.