Students, staff worry about alternative school’s fate in Benson HS’s construction plan

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Students and staff at Alliance High School in Portland have serious concerns about the school's future, in the face of a master construction plan for Benson High School that doesn't appear to include the alternative school.

The Portland School Board is considering options for the co-located school, and has heard public comments on the issue, but has yet to make a decision.

In the report that outlines the plans for the renovation of Benson, district staff suggests it may be necessary to move Alliance High School at Benson to another location during construction.

Joel Shapiro, who has taught at Alliance for eight years, is worried moving the alternative school, which serves more than 100 students, would create a barrier for the many students who rely on public transportation.

"Students wouldn’t come," said Shapiro. "They wouldn’t be able to get here. I mean already with this location, we have students who are taking an hour and an hour and a half to get here."

Alex Peters, a senior at Alliance, takes the MAX to school from east Portland.

"It’s right off of Lloyd Center," said Peters. "If you’re on the MAX, you don’t have to make a transfer, which is really nice."

Peters recently testified at a board worksession in November, pleading with board members to keep Alliance at Benson.

Some board members expressed an interest in exploring that option.

"To me, it’s not a foregone conclusion that they are the students that move," said Board Chair Julia Brim-Edwards at the time.

Peters, who hopes to graduate at the end of the school year, may not be affected if the school does move, since construction won't start until the summer of 2021.

But Peters believes other students who didn't make it in traditional schools should have the same chance to succeed, with the help of the program at Alliance.

"For the rest of my life, I’m going to look back at Alliance," said Peters. "I’m going to fight for Alliance for my whole life."

The school board is expected to vote on the Benson Master Plan at Tuesday's meeting.

Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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