Has Chief Joseph Elementary been saved?

Has Chief Joseph Elementary been saved? »Play Video
Chief Joseph Elementary School in North Portland (KATU photo).

PORTLAND, Ore. - There was a dramatic turn of events Monday in North Portland where parents have been fighting to keep their kids' school from closing.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith will reverse course on her earlier recommendation to close Chief Joseph Elementary School.

So is the school now safe from the chopping block?

It's a first step toward that end, but many parents say they are going to wait to celebrate. They are still on edge as the school board makes enrollment balancing decisions.

It was just a week ago that Smith told the school board she wanted to merge Chief Joseph and Ockley Green schools together, and then eventually close Chief Joseph.

Parents questioned what it would mean to the neighborhood surrounding Chief Joseph, and why the district had previously released two options for school closures, neither of which included Chief Joseph.

The outcry appears to have worked.

At Monday's school board meeting, three board members opposed closing Chief Joseph, leading Smith to amend her recommendation.

Still, as parents told us when they first learned Chief Joseph was on the short list, they won't relax until they know with certainty that the school will stay open.

"Parents are not going to back down," said Becca Russell, the parent of a first grader at Chief Joseph. "We are going to fight for our school. Whatever it takes, we are going to fight to keep our school open because we love it that much."

"The level of distrust at this point has gone off the scale," said Kelly Bawden, who also has a first grader at Chief Joseph.

The school board will formally vote on the matter later this month. Smith still plans to recommend merging Chief Joseph and Ockley Green - as one school on two campuses.

It is unclear if any schools are in danger of closing now.