The Portland School Board voted four to one on Tuesday to replace the decades-old student transfer policy, drastically altering the way students are allowed to switch Portland schools.
The previous transfer system, which included a lottery system allowing students to move to schools with available space, was accused of draining low-income schools of students, as families left for wealthier one in other neighborhoods.
According to a report by the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for Enrollment and Transfer (SACET), the old lottery system aided gentrification and dropped school enrollment for some schools.
Now a petition process, in which families will have to make the case they they deserve a transfer, will be the only way a student can move to a school outside their Portland neighborhood.
The Portland School District hopes the new policy will make the transfer process more equitable and provide useful data on why students leave certain schools, according to Jon Isaacs, the chief of communications and public affairs at PPS.
“It will increase the focus on the heart of the district, and people will be encouraged to attend or at least spend time learning about, their neighborhood school,” Isaacs said.
Critics of the new policy say the there has not been enough public deliberation about the policy and that the change could cause families to flee the public school system altogether.
Over the last few years, there have been more transfer petitions than students entering the transfer lottery, Isaacs said.
In 2011 most Portland public high schools removed transfer policies. Roosevelt High School has doubled enrollment and increased graduation rates by 22 percent in that time.
The policy change was initially crafted by the SACET over the past year and presented to the board in November. After meetings in December, and a delayed vote in January, due to a protest, the board approved the final version of the policy change during the Jan. 20 meeting.
Now the new policy is in place, here are 10 things you need to know about the new system and how it will change transferring for students: