Students hold walkout over planned changes for Portland schools - KPTV - FOX 12

Students hold walkout over planned changes for Portland schools gifted program

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Students at Portland’s ACCESS Academy walked out of school Tuesday morning to protest a proposal that would break up their program.

Big changes are on the table right now for Portland Public Schools, including opening two new middle schools. These changes are creating a domino effect that could force ACCESS Academy out of Rose City Park School, but students are fighting back.

About 50 students walked out of class in protest, marching around the neighborhood holding signs and chanting.

Currently, ACCESS Academy brings around 350 elementary and middle school students from throughout the district together in one location at Rose City Park School.

One of several proposals by the school board calls for ACCESS Academy to be disbanded so Rose City can have more room to become an elementary school.

The district would then change to what it describes as a “regional service delivery model” that would push current academy students out amongst several schools. District officials have stated this approach could increase access to the program for students in the district.

"The idea is to continue to provide these services to these exceptional students and also provide services to all the other students who have exceptional skills in one way or the other,” PPS spokesperson Dave Northfield told FOX 12. “So, it's a challenge to be equitable."

The students at the academy told FOX 12 that Being together as a community is just as important as what they learn.

“We’re trying to make it clear that we need access and that we all want to stay together,” eighth-grader Amelia Kotamarti said. “But in order to do that, we need to have a home, and many more people need this program, so we need to make it as accessible as possible.”

"The superintendent of PPS said he might split up the school, and we just don't want to get split up from all of our friends," student Fin Morgan added.

There is a listening session Tuesday night so ACCESS Academy families can talk with district leaders. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at Rose City Park School.

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