By David Mayne
Starting this fall, Portland Public Schools (PPS) will begin design and planning work to transform Cleveland into a next generation high school. The two-year process will include input from a volunteer citizen committee that will work with the architects and PPS to help shape the design. Funding for the planning effort comes from the 2020 PPS School Improvement Bond. Construction funding for rebuilding the school will come from a future improvement bond.
PPS is seeking a diverse range of engaged citizens to positively contribute to the process through the Cleveland Comprehensive Planning Committee (CPC). The goal of the Cleveland CPC is to develop an equitable and integrated comprehensive plan for a modernized Cleveland High School through authentic community engagement. It will include students, parents, teachers, alumni, administrators, PPS staff, partners, community representatives and a school board member. PPS is especially interested in having current and future Cleveland students on the CPC. Their insights are extremely valuable to the design team as students from other modernization projects have made significant and lasting contributions to the design process.
The CPC collects and synthesizes community-wide input and collaborates around the evolving project details with other members in the Cleveland community. While CPC members are not tasked with making final decisions, their input is crucial in creating a comprehensive plan that the entire community can be proud of.
To apply to be a member of the CPC, visit the Cleveland Modernization website at pps.net/ClevelandBond. Applications are available in all PPS supported languages. Interested candidates should plan on meeting about once a month in the evening for five to six months. The CPC application process will remain open until mid-September, with the first meeting taking place in late September.
If people are unable to join the CPC, they will still have opportunities to make their voices heard at upcoming Design Workshops. Those dates will be announced on the Cleveland Modernization website. They can also join the project mailing list at CHSBond@pps.net to receive updates.
The multi-year PPS bond program has successfully remodeled or rebuilt seven schools with two more, Benson Polytechnic and the new Multiple Pathways to Graduation Building, completing in 2024. Nearby Franklin High was among the first schools to be completed in 2017. Kellogg Middle School was rebuilt in 2021. Jefferson High School is next in line for construction starting in the summer of 2024. Cleveland and Ida B. Wells are the final PPS high schools to be modernized since the start of the district’s capital improvement program in 2012. Ida B. Wells will begin its design and planning process at the same time as Cleveland.
In addition to the modernization work, the PPS Bond program has performed health and safety improvement projects that have upgraded every aging school in the district with water quality, security upgrades, new roofs, asbestos, radon and lead paint stabilization, new fire alarms and sprinklers, ADA improvements and seismic retrofits. This work is vital to our city because most PPS schools were built before WW2.
Cleveland High School was originally founded in 1916 on land that is now part of Portland State University. In 1929, a new three-story building was completed on its current location, replacing the Clinton Kelly School that was located there previously. Cleveland High was designed by architect George Jones, who had created a number of PPS schools. The concrete structure has a wire-brushed, stretcher-bond brick veneer with terra cotta ornament in a Classical Revival style. Art-Deco style ornamentation, characteristic of the time, was used inside the building. The existing building encompasses a total of approximately 254,200 square feet. The school’s property is spread across three parcels of land totaling just under 12 acres.
Planning and Design is set to begin in early fall of 2023 with the development of a Cleveland Comprehensive Plan. The Planning and Design phase will continue over the next two years.